Take something lightly

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I'd like to know if the expression "take something lightly" sounds idiomatic/correct in the examples below. Please, take a look.

1. - "You should take things more lightly. You always get angry for the slightest reason. Don't be so demanding."

2. - "He called me names but I took it lightly, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."


Definition of "take something lightly": not get offended, angry or upset about something, let something pass, try to be wise and not lose control of your emotions.

Thank you very much in advance!
 
  • sandpiperlily

    Senior Member
    I wouldn't use "take X lightly" in those ways. In fact, this phrase is almost always used in the negative. Also, I don't necessarily agree with the definition you've posted -- to me, "to take something lightly" is the opposite of "to take something seriously." It's usually more about dedication or attention rather than emotion. Here's a more idiomatic example:

    Mother: Your grades are declining. I'm getting worried that you're not serious about your studies.
    Daughter: Oh, I don't take school lightly! It's just that my classes are so much harder this year.

    Let's see if others have a better explanation.
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much. I'd like to ask you if you have any suggestions for the specific contexts I provided. [not get offended, angry or upset about something, let something pass, try to be wise and not lose control of your emotions.]

    Thank you very much in advance!
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    I'd like to know if the expression "take something lightly" sounds idiomatic/correct in the examples below. Please, take a look.

    1. - "You should take things more lightly. You always get angry for the slightest reason. Don't be so demanding."

    2. - "He called me names but I took it lightly, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."
    As a Brit I find both of your examples perfectly correct - the first sounding much better than the usual modern injunction to 'chill out!'. :)
     

    Trope

    Senior Member
    American English
    Germinal,

    Thank you very much. So I think "take something lightly" in the context I've used it is more common in the UK.
    Definitely. To take something or someone lightly in the States is to underestimate it or them. Take it easy would be a good substitute for example 1 but not for 2.

    edit: 2. took it in stride
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    I'm not sure about that, Xavier - like sandpiperlily, I would normally use "take it lightly" in the negative, I think.
    This is perfectly good English and the frequency of the use of the phrase in the negative as opposed to the positive surely has no bearing on its validity? :)
     

    sandpiperlily

    Senior Member
    1. - "You should relax. You always get angry for the slightest reason. Don't be so demanding."
    1. - "You should try to be more even-tempered. You always get angry for the slightest reason. Don't be so demanding."

    2. - "He called me names but I shrugged it off, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."
    2. - "He called me names but I laughed it off, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."
    2. - "He called me names but I didn't take it to heart, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    Definitely. To take something or someone lightly in the States is to underestimate it or them. Take it easy would be a good substitute for example 1 but not for 2.

    edit: 2. took it in stride
    It carries the same meaning in Britain too but it is also used in the sense of the original question. Take it easy and I took it in my stride are excellent alternatives.
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    1. - "You should relax. You always get angry for the slightest reason. Don't be so demanding."
    1. - "You should try to be more even-tempered. You always get angry for the slightest reason. Don't be so demanding."

    2. - "He called me names but I shrugged it off, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."
    2. - "He called me names but I laughed it off, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."
    2. - "He called me names but I didn't take it to heart, after all, he's taking anti-depressants and we all have to be patient with him."
    Sandpiperlily's alternatives are the ones I would prefer in your contexts, too, Xavier.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    This is perfectly good English and the frequency of the use of the phrase in the negative as opposed to the positive surely has no bearing on its validity? :)
    If you say things in a way that no one else does, you may sound very strange no matter how wonderfully grammatical your peculiar sayings are.
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    If you say things in a way that no one else does, you may sound very strange no matter how wonderfully grammatical your peculiar sayings are.
    Am I picking up hostility here or is it simply that my British ear is not quite attuned to your, perhaps more robust, American manners? The point I am trying to make here is that there are differences in the way we use our shared language and it is much more useful to acknowledge these than to try to impose one's own version on others. :)
     
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