I've seen some use "shine on" to close a letter. What does this mean?

  • 1
    Not really relevant, but used transitively, it means to deceive! "You're shining me on" is roughly synonymous with "You're pulling my leg". Jul 26, 2012 at 20:46

5 Answers 5


When used in this way, it basically means to keep on "shining" or "excelling", or "being a good person".
So, "shine on" as a closing of the letter could be explained like this.

Goodbye, and shine on, Anthony/ Goodbye, and keep excelling, Anthony/Goodbye, and keep being a good person, Anthony.

  • @Unreason - Pink Floyd was my first thought as well. However, that isn't even the only awesome song that uses the phrase.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 20, 2011 at 17:08
  • I remember in Terminator II the young John Connor instructed the cyborg that if he wanted to shine someone on tell them, 'Hasta la vista baby.' That use doesn't seem to fit this definition.
    – user87975
    Aug 12, 2014 at 12:49
  • "Where were you last Friday? You never called me back. I hate it when you shine me on like that." urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Shine%20me%20on Aug 12, 2014 at 14:21

This is a rather old turn of phrase. It appears all over the King James Bible, both directly and indirectly. It roughly means "Don't hide from the world what a wonderful person you truly are."

Quite a lot of popular songs use the phrase. Off the top of my head, John Lennon's Instant Karma, Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and the old Gospel song This Little Light of Mine. All are rather influential songs in their places.


The correct meaning for "shine it on"dates back to 1931, when the county of Los Angeles Probation Department established its first forestry camp for at risk youths. This became the model for the federal CCC conservation camps. As part of their uniforms the kids wore hard hats with a silver metal brim, which they were expected to keep highly polished, ie. shiny. While wearing them on a work detail, if another kid attempted to irritate or provoke you usually a friend would counsel you to "shine it, or him, on" meaning to tilt your head down so that the would-be provocateur could only see his own reflection in the brim of your hat.

As result of the five juvenile deaths sustained during the 1955 Hacienda fire juvenile firefighting activities were sharply curtailed. The camps continued to operate but they now engaged in fire prevention such as brush clearance and not in direct fire suppression. I understand that at present there is one probation camp for older youth, Camp Routh, where the kids do fight fires. Don't know if they still wear those shiny helmets, though.

  • I'm astounded that you had the answer I was looking for! My mom taught Jr. High in Compton, California back in the day (when it was really bad, 70s–early 90s) and when we got mad at someone for disrespecting us she'd say "just shine it on" meaning "let it go." It's very obscure, but it does make sense! And I went to a school where kids were bused in (including, then, the young Forrest Whittaker). Only the black kids would use it, but I understood it: they'd just shorten it to "Shine..." while holding up their hand and "flinging" the insult away. Thanks, g. m.!
    – user42286
    Apr 11, 2013 at 21:58

It means that you have an overall positive glow about you as a person. Like your smile or something else is a ray of light shinning. Or your inner light shines extra brightly.


You, being a candle or another source of light, burning bright and shining light into an imaginary dark room, are wished by the person to keep defying the darkness and supplying light by continuing your specific implied actions which, by emitting light for others to see, brings hope.

(Candle is the original source of light for this meaning.)

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