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Merriam Webster says that alight means, among other things, "to descend from or as if from the air and come to rest."

So, the question is: Can one use alight in a sentence like "A small kite alighted on the roof directly over that house"?

Or, does the "come to rest" part imply that that word is currently used only in reference to animate beings, like birds or insects?

  • Also note that “roof directly over that house” might be a reference to a roof other than the roof of the mentioned house. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jul 22 '13 at 15:23
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    And that kite without anything further might be taken to mean the bird after which the toy is named. – TimLymington Jul 22 '13 at 15:32
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    A red kite Beautiful creatures but a little too large to be described as "small" I think. – Mari-Lou A Jul 22 '13 at 16:21
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    @Mari-LouA, unless it's a young kite. :-) – Kristina Lopez Jul 22 '13 at 17:50
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Yes, you can use "alighted" for objects as well as living creatures.

A gloomy, heavily overcast morning [...] is suddenly transformed into a blissful morning of hope by a shaft of sunlight which has alighted on the balcony wall.

From "Thresholds: A Study of Proust" by Gerda Blumenthal

There are also several examples of snowflakes alighting, but all the alighting kites I've found refer to birds, unfortunately. However, I am confident that the current usage will allow for a kite-flyer to cause his kite to alight on a chimney.

  • Perhaps it is the somewhat clumsy manner that kites tend to hit the ground in that make them poor candidates for the very elegant-sounding ‘alight’. A butterfly alights, a snowflake alights, a ray of light alights, a gymnast might even alight after a successful jump. But a kite just clods plumply onto whatever surface it hits. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 22 '13 at 14:35
  • Janus, I've certainly made kites land gently, but I did do a lot of kite flying when I was younger. – Phil M Jones Jul 22 '13 at 14:51

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