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tom_in_bahia

Senior Member
South Florida/Phoenix-Tucson/the Adirondacks. Native of North American English
This could be some crazy ideolectal thing of mine but I've always used the noun lightning as a verb as well. The dictionary on here does not list it as a verb.

It's lightninging.

I don't know if this is just some construction I developed as a child and that I've carried into adulthood. Either way, I think that it is non standard, even though it follows the rules for English weather verbs:

It's raining (from rain; to rain)
It's snowing (from snow; to snow)

So, logically, why not "it's lightninging" (from lightning; to lightning)

Does anyone else use this as a verb?
 
  • Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    I was just about to reply that this is absolutely unheard of. Then I checked dictionary.com:

    Verb, used without object: If it starts to lightning, we'd better go inside.

    English language is a scary thing
     

    Q-cumber

    Senior Member
    The verb is "to lighten", isn't it? And "lightening" is the continuous form of the verb. The second "-ing" sounds somewhat odd to my "non-native-speaker's" ear. :)

    Should we follow the logic pattern proposed... :
    a building - to building - The guy is buildinging his business. :)
    a painting - to painting - She is paintinging the walls... and so on



    PS Edited to fix the mistake
     

    tom_in_bahia

    Senior Member
    South Florida/Phoenix-Tucson/the Adirondacks. Native of North American English
    I've always considered "to lighten" as to make something lighter in color or tone. Like: "My mom was at the salon, lightening her hair."

    As for Q-cumber: Remember that because English is a language that doesn't rely on morphology so much as word order, almost any word can become a verb if you smack at to in front or the third person -s on the end in the simple present, etc. The inging combo isn't so unheard of, think of the verb sing in the gerund: singing; or the verb ring: ringing.:)

    Anyway, thanks for the info Trisia. I'll consult my Cambridge dictionary.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The verb is "to lighten", isn't it? And "lightning" is the continuous form of the verb. The second "-ing" sounds somewhat odd to my "non-native-speaker's" ear. :)
    To lighten is to become lighter, or to make lighter. I've never heard and would never say it's lightning - I'd say, like most people in BE, I suspect, there are flashes of lightning, or there's lightning.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    To lighten is to become lighter, or to make lighter. I've never heard and would never say it's lightning - I'd say, like most people in BE, I suspect, there are flashes of lightning, or there's lightning.
    Same in AE then (thank God we have something in common :D)
     

    Q-cumber

    Senior Member
    Thomas Tompion said:
    To lighten is to become lighter, or to make lighter. I've never heard and would never say it's lightning - I'd say, like most people in BE, I suspect, there are flashes of lightning, or there's lightning.
    Well, according to my Concise Oxford English Dictionary:
    lighten2
    ■ verb
    make or become lighter or brighter.
    (it lightens, it is lightening, etc.) rare flash with lightning.
    archaic enlighten spiritually.
    Of course, I can't estimate the real usage of the word; though I used to occasionally see "it lightens" in English texts.
    Here below are some examples found via Google:
    "...when it lightens and thunders..."
    "It lightens, it thunders, it will rain"
    ""It lightens!" cried two or three of us, who were watching the cloud."
    "The weather is cloudy this moring, with a few drops of rain. Around 10 am it lightens and becomes fine with occasional cloudy spells."
    ...and so on
    Easily Confused or Misused Words

    lightening / lightning
    Lightening is a verb that means to illuminate; lightning is a noun referring to the electrical charges the cause flashes of light during storms: “The lightning struck, lightening the sky.”
    My bad! "it's lightening", not "it's lightning"


    "All over the news this morning is a health warning about wearing IPOD
    when it's lightening."

    "... to stay away from or how to protect yourself when it's lightening outside. ..." (ABC 7 News)
    "If it's lightening, stay away from tall objects (such as trees) and look for low areas to wait it out. If necessary, squat or lay down..."
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There seems to be some confusion between lightning (verb) referring to the weather phenomenon and lighten (verb) meaning become lighter.
    Lighten, lightened, lightening - is familiar and in regular use.
    Lightning, lightninged, lightnining - sounds really strange to me, and clearly sounds strange to others.

    Two of the seven dictionaries at Dictionary.com include lightning (verb) - if I counted right.

    The OED includes lightning (verb) from around 1903. Prior to that, only lighten was used as the verb related to lightning.
    Where doomsday may thunder and lighten
    And little 'twill matter to one.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    I guess if "thunder" can be a noun or a verb, so can "lightning." My dictionary says "lightning" can be a verb. I've never heard it used that way. I wonder if it's one of those uses that is falling away, as the language evolves over time.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    [...]
    I've never heard it used that way. I wonder if it's one of those uses that is falling away, as the language evolves over time.
    I've never heard it either, but rather than falling away it appears to be a relatively new development - at least if the examples quoted in the OED are anything to go by.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    I've never heard it either, but rather than falling away it appears to be a relatively new development - at least if the examples quoted in the OED are anything to go by.
    Yes, of course, 1903. Doesn't that seem extraordinarily unusual, for a noun that must be as old as (English-speaking) civilization to have acquired verb status in the early 1900's? Maybe not.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    This could be some crazy ideolectal thing of mine but I've always used the noun lightning as a verb as well. The dictionary on here does not list it as a verb.

    It's lightninging.
    I'm happy(ish) to say that I've always said It's lightninging too. (For me there's no connexion whatsoever between the verb lighten and the noun lightning ... well, apart from the 'light' bit, obviously.)
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I've heard lightninging and even used it a few times, but only by and to children (or to be cute - which is a stretch for me). It is the sort of word which is "created" by someone who is becoming familiar with how verbs are constructed, but not yet familiar with when they can do certain things. I suspect that many people have discovered this construction (independently) in childhood, and retained it because their parents thought it was cute and encouraged them.
     
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    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I've never heard it, but I'm willing to believe it's a word.

    However, we can't assume it has to be a word based on generalizing from "to rain," "to snow," "to sleet" and so on. There are lots of weather phenomena in English that cannot be turned into verbs. I don't think we can say "it's tornadoing," "it's galing," and so on. We can say "it's fogging," but that doesn't mean that there's fog; it means that the amount of fog is increasing (or that a window/mirror is becoming harder to use for its intended purpose).
     

    rituparnahoymoy

    Senior Member
    Assamese -India
    <-----Threads have been merged at this point by moderator (Florentia52)----->

    It has started to lightning

    It has started to thunder.

    Are these correct phrases?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I confess that I'm always at a loss for words when I want to express "It has started to lightning" or "it's lightning" (as one would naturally say "It has started to rain" or "It's raining). It's rather awkward in English.

    I think I usually end up saying: Wow! Look at the lightning! :oops:


    More articulate reactions to thunder and lightning in this thread:
    It is thundering outside.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Interesting. I see the WR dictionary provides that meaning too.

    It could be misunderstood as meaning "the sky has started to lighten" unless the context made it clear that lightning was meant.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Interesting. I see the WR dictionary provides that meaning too.

    It could be misunderstood as meaning "the sky has started to lighten" unless the context made it clear that lightning was meant.
    Oxford Dictionaries has this definition for "lighten": [rare] [no object] Flash with lightning.

    I think I would generally tend to interpret "It's lightening outside" to mean it's getting lighter (possibly following a thunderstorm). :)
     
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