Lighted v lit
this has been a major irritant for me for quite some time. why substitute the awkward "lighted" for the more graceful, easier to say "lit"? who started this and why? it has to be fairly recently, but it has taken over. no one seems to use "lit" anymore!
"Lighted" is pretty old; Hemmingway's "A Clean, Well Lighted Place" is 75 years old. Also, "lit" remains in current use, as in how well lit a scene is in photography, being lit as in "stoned" or one's expression having "lit" up. The distinction, I believe, is that "lit" is associated with being "more graceful [and] easier" and so is used in a more ęsthetic context and "lighted" as more technical. The Director of a shoot might refer to how well the scene is lit while the Lighting Supervisor might refer to the condition as how well lighted the scene is. If there is a drift, it might come from a general tendency for society to appreciate things in a technical rather than romantic way.
i guess i wasn't specific enough. yes, lighted is indeed old, but not in the context i'm concerned with. in sentences such as "he lit the cigarette." it's now "he lighted the cigarette." or, it's not "her face lit up." but "her face lighted up." it's awkward in that context. there's nothing wrong with the word "lighted" itself, just with it's usage, in it's replacing "lit". and it is indeed, not just prevalent, but everywhere. listen to t.v. show dialog and read newspapers and, in the context i'm talking about, it is all over the damned place. as it is in novels, histories and wherever else you'd like to look. i want to know how this got started. where did it come from and why?
I do think that its the trend toward technical vs. romantic language. I'd agree that "her face lighted up" is awkward since its meant figuratively and so "lit" would be more appropropriate. The distinction is loose and given the overall trend, folks just slowly started saying "lighted" in even these cases, instead. That complicates the question of "when" it happened since this hypothesis would hold on it being gradual.
Frank Pierce
I'm wondering if there isn't a grammatical basis for the lighted-versus-lit argument. In a typical conjugation of the transitive verb "to light," wouldn't I say:

I light
I have lighted
I lit

...for present, present perfect and simple past?

And as we know, shifting the usage from regular and making irregular verbs out of them is a fact of life.

Am I off-base on this one?

I was brought up to believe that the fire was lit, but the picture above the fireplace was lighted. Her eyes lit up with excitement, but the Christmas tree lighted up when the switch was turned. I.e., literally or figuratively, it's 'shone a light on' versus 'set alight'

Unfortunately I can find no support for this childhood memory! Was I misled?

Frank Pierce
No, I've never heard that explanation but it seems to be a good distinction that meets every test I can think of to apply. It's parallel to the difference between lend and loan, sit and set, and lay and lie. Precise differences but nobody really bothers to make the distinction.


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