"Lit" became "Lighted"?

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"Lit" became "Lighted"?

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nov 26, 2010, 1:28pm

Growing up I learned "lit" as the past tense of "to light something". As in, "He lit the torch."

A few years ago I read "He lighted the torch" and smirked, thinking it was an error. Then I saw it again. And again and again and again, in different books, and never "lit" anywhere.

Now I don't know if I've ever seen "lit" used in print; maybe it just took me this long to notice?

But - I visted this online dictionary, which does claim "lit" to be the past tense for "light". http://www.merriam-webster.com/ Then I looked up "lighted," and it's not even listed (!).

Maybe this is a UK/US thing?

nov 26, 2010, 1:32pm

Both are grammatically correct.

nov 26, 2010, 3:37pm

My dictionary says : lit, but lighted is also used.

But what is correct and what is not in a language gets determined by the usage of native speakers, and dictionaries only record that, and are usually lagging behind. And the process of turning strong verbs into weak verbs is well documented in the history of English, so this changes seem only natural.

nov 26, 2010, 5:16pm

The OED gives both forms but lists lighted first. To judge by the examples, it's attested back to Old English.

nov 26, 2010, 8:34pm

I hear you. I cringe whenever I hear or read the word dived.

Redigeret: nov 26, 2010, 8:40pm

Message deleted by author.

nov 26, 2010, 11:51pm

The $verb-ed past tense form is becoming more common in usage, and I'm either curmudgeonly or poetic enough to miss past tense forms and pluperfect forms. The loss of a pluperfect in English grieves me, as folks who grow up speaking, reading, writing English may now only discover it when studying another language
My personal wince-inducing examples include "weaved" for "wove" and or "woven" by folks writing in the field of handwovens.
At the same time, it is absolutely true what Conachair says at #3. What is correct and proper are determined by common use, and thus things change, and so fundamentally it's correct to say the torch of linguistic change has been lighted.


nov 27, 2010, 3:54am

Strong (Irregular) forms will survive on words used often enough - this is why the words for to be and to have are usually hard to learn in a new (to you) language. If someone hasn't heard these forms very often, and suddenly needs a past tense, they will use the regular form. To light, to dive, and to weave may just be reaching the point where many young people only use them occaisionally.

On the example of 'to weave', questions like 'Who wove this? would have been common while most fabrics were hand woven. When I was young we did a lot of paperweaving crafts, and I wove potholders on a small loom. (Horrible things, as I recall) My boys may have seen weaving done once or twice when growing up. Because I do a lot of textile things, they probably heard 'wove' often enough to recognize it. Hard to tell if they would use it actively.

I run into a lot of young women who never had anything to do with textile crafts, and in their thirties decide to learn to knit, embroider... I can easily imagine that someone like that could learn to weave and end up using 'weaved' even when she had learned to use other terms correctly. Personally I'd rather they learned to weave, to sew with handwoven materials, etc. and say weaved, than that they only wore readymade clothing and said 'wove'.

nov 27, 2010, 4:16am

> 8 Actually dive is one of the few examples of weak verbs becoming strong. (One of those random facts probably only someone studying linguistics knows :-))

nov 27, 2010, 4:19am

As Shakespeare said in Macbeth "All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death".

nov 27, 2010, 5:08pm

#5, you just made my week.

nov 27, 2010, 5:15pm

10> Bah, I can't accept Shakespeare as an expert on language anymore. Everyone knows he made up words to fit the meter: how can he be trusted? ;)

nov 28, 2010, 10:40pm

>8 MarthaJeanne:, MarthaJeanne, don't excuse those 30-somethings! I'm 32, have never had anything to do with textile crafts (nor has anyone close to me), and I still know that "weaved" is wrong. :) I guess I'm old school though - I can't get used to "sneaked," "lighted," or "dived." It just sounds wrong to me.

nov 29, 2010, 4:34am

#12: Reminds me of the schoolboy joke in which a youngster goes home to mother mouthing "bloody" at every opportunity (it's a Brit joke, by the way). His mother says, "You're not to use that word," to which he replies "Well, Shakespeare uses it." Her response? "You're not to play with him anymore..." Well, as a twelve-year-old at the time, with the mentality of Beavis and Butthead, I found it screamingly funny.

nov 29, 2010, 4:39am

Which is somewhat hilarious in hindsight now that we seem to have an increasing use of British swear words (bloody, twat, git, wanker, arse) on this side of the pond, most of them deemed grade-school level and appropriate enough to get past the censors.

nov 29, 2010, 5:12am

Seems fair exchange, Phocion. Incidentally, wasn't it Keats who used the phrase "nun's twats" in a poem believing the term referred to her habit (clothing, not behavioural tic) instead of her private parts?

nov 29, 2010, 5:18am

Quite possibly. And to be completely fair, you'd be hard pressed to find a word in English that was not a euphemism for male or female genitalia at some point in history.

nov 29, 2010, 8:37am

>16 ed.pendragon: IWRR that was Browning.

dec 14, 2010, 7:21pm

>13 fannyprice:
You're not defending "snuck" as proper usage, are you? You almost sneaked that past us. ;-)

dec 16, 2010, 1:27pm

Just reading The Longed Tales, where the author uses "shined" exclusively, especially where I would expect "shone", for example when referring the sun in the morning/evening, gold, and so on.

Redigeret: dec 16, 2010, 2:09pm

20> Some of the 8 members with that work should add the author to your records. The editions page seems to show the author munged together with the title in the title field. If the record came from Amazon it would be wise to get Amazon to change it before more such records are added to LT.

Redigeret: dec 19, 2010, 1:06am

1> http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=lit%2C+lighted&year_start=1800&am...

Until 1930 or so it seems that lighted was the more common word when they switched places. It appears that lighted is making a strong comeback in the last few years though.

Redigeret: dec 19, 2010, 1:14am

5> http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=dove%2C+dived&year_start=1800&amp...

It appears that dove is and has been since at least 1800 more popular than dived (except in a weird spike in the mid-1940's).

ETA: Actually there appear to be spikes of the word dived during WWI and WWII. Is there a military term that uses "dived"?

dec 19, 2010, 1:12am

7> http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=wove%2C+woven%2C+weaved&year_star...

It appears that there is nothing to fear from weaved.

dec 19, 2010, 1:18am

13> http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=snuck%2Csneaked&year_start=1800&a...

Sneaked seems to have been more common than snuck since the 1800s at least, although snuck is sneaking up on sneaked since around the 1970s.

dec 19, 2010, 10:14am

>23 jjwilson61: Of course, there is no common bird named a "dived".

dec 19, 2010, 11:52am

Perhaps there was one, briefly, in the mid-1940s?

dec 19, 2010, 3:05pm

Dived is the past simple of 'to dive' in British English.
We would always say, "He dived into the pool" and never dove.

Redigeret: dec 19, 2010, 3:29pm

>29 NorthernTeacher: We would always say "He dived into the pool" and never dove.

Same here in Australia, although with all the USA TV that we see here I wouldn't be surprised if "dove" snucks in before long.

Hang on..... That sounds a bit New Zealandish, doesn't it?

dec 19, 2010, 4:15pm

With some of these, I would use different forms in different circumstances. Thus: 'he lit a fire' but 'he lighted a lamp'; 'she wove cloth' but 'she weaved in and out of the trees'. Rather like the old thingy about pictures being 'hung' and murderers 'hanged'.

Whether there's anything behind the first two or they're just some artefact of my subconscious I don't know.

I've always considered 'dove' and 'snuck' as Americanisms, though.

dec 19, 2010, 8:07pm

"Dove" is an Americanism, just as we always seem to try fixing the problems we find within the English language; given that it's drive and drove, and ride and rode, it's simple to see what dive became dove. I typically used "dived," myself, but either one is fine.

There is no excuse for "snuck," though.

dec 19, 2010, 8:55pm

There is no excuse for "snuck," though.

Could you elaborate?

dec 19, 2010, 8:56pm

Just making a joke, more than anything.

You have "peak" become "peaked," not "puck," so why does "sneak" become "snuck"?

dec 19, 2010, 9:16pm

Will leak's past become luck? I prefer luck as a past tense of lick.


dec 19, 2010, 10:01pm

The following is, I think, a better test for dived and dove:


Dived was well ahead until the 1990s and now seems to be making a comeback. It's interesting that both terms rose sharply from 2000.

Also, looking at a few examples around WWI and WWII I suspect that the bumps are from descriptions of air combat and perhaps submarines.

dec 19, 2010, 10:48pm

34> seek becomes sought, so shouldn't sneak become snot? ;)

dec 19, 2010, 11:01pm

37: Touché.

Whether British or American, Canadian or Australian, or anywhere the Empire made its mark, English has made us all its nonsensical bitch.

dec 20, 2010, 2:18am

I think 'snook', not 'snuck' but same phoneme.

dec 20, 2010, 5:40am

It's the old chestnut, isn't it, when a (mostly) literate society starts making up new rules on the basis of analogy (and which seems to continue in oral folk usage as well): and when we see and hear it enough times we (a) become habituated to the new usage and (b) begin to doubt our previous certainties.

The literate path: the British native bird the chough used to be pronounced "chow" on the basis of its call (rather like the jackdaw is so called because it voices the sound "chac"). Presumably on the analogy of "cough" the bird is now pronounced "chuff".

The oral folk path (I'm using "folk" in the sense of common usage): the British pronunciation of the verb "harass" used to have the stress on the first syllable until the US usage of stressing the second syllable started to dominate in the second half of the 20th century. Though not so fashionable a term the US pronunciation is still more likely to be heard now in the UK. (Of course in French the stresses in the verb "harasser" tend be be more undifferentiated.)

dec 29, 2010, 8:52pm

> 36

Dived was well ahead until the 1990s and now seems to be making a comeback. It's interesting that both terms rose sharply from 2000.

Maybe there was a flurry of writing about China's dominance of Olympic diving beginning in 2000....