from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that ignites or kindles.
  • n. A mechanical device for lighting a cigarette, cigar, or pipe.
  • n. A large flatbottom barge, especially one used to deliver or unload goods to or from a cargo ship or transport goods over short distances.
  • transitive v. To convey (cargo) in a lighter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. comparative form of light: more light
  • adj. comparative form of light: more light
  • n. A small, reusable, handheld device for creating fire, especially for lighting cigarettes.
  • n. A flat-bottomed boat for carrying heavy loads across short distances (especially for canals or for loading or unloading larger boats).
  • v. To transfer cargo or fuel from a ship, lightening it to make its draft less or to make it easier to refloat.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who, or that which, lights.
  • n. A large boat or barge, mainly used in unloading or loading vessels which can not reach the wharves at the place of shipment or delivery.
  • transitive v. To convey by a lighter, as to or from the shore.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To convey or transport in or as in a lighter, as goods or cargo.
  • To be employed in the business of transporting goods by means of a lighter.
  • n. One who or that which lights or illuminates; specifically, a torch or an electric device for lighting candles or gasjets. A simple form of lighter is a strip of paper rolled into a tapering tube.
  • n. plural Blinkers for a horse.
  • n. A boat or vessel, commonly an open flat-bottomed barge, but sometimes decked, used in lightening or unloading and also in loading ships, and for receiving and transporting for short distances passengers or goods, or materials of any kind, usually in a harbor.
  • n. Same as lafter.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a flatbottom boat for carrying heavy loads (especially on canals)
  • n. a substance used to ignite or kindle a fire
  • v. transport in a flatbottom boat
  • n. a device for lighting or igniting fuel or charges or fires


Middle English, perhaps from lighten, to make less heavy, from Old English līhtan; see legwh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
See light ("pale") + -er ("comparative") (Wiktionary)
See light ("ignite") + -er ("agent") (Wiktionary)
See light ("unload, lighten") + -er ("agent") (Wiktionary)
See light ("not heavy, weak") + -er ("comparative") (Wiktionary)



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  • "... is a large open flat-bottomed vessel, generally managed with oars, and employed to carry goods to or from a ship when she is to be laden with, or delivered of, her stores, &c.

    "Ballast lighter, a vessel fitted up to heave ballast from the bottom of a harbour or river, and to carry it to and from ships.

    "Covered or close lighter, is furnished with a deck throughout her whole length, in order to contain those merchandises which would be damaged by rainy weather, as also to prevent pillage."
    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 228

    October 11, 2008