I've heard "to light a cigarette" being used a couple of times, but I am still in doubt about two things:

  1. Is this common both in American English and British English?

  2. Are there other ways to say it in American English?

  • I wonder what else can replace "light a cigarette". To light a cigarette for someone could simply mean being polite.
    – NVZ
    Feb 25, 2016 at 11:34
  • 1
    Oald, light, verb, answers your first question. You can switch from English to American English. oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/light_3
    – rogermue
    Feb 25, 2016 at 11:38
  • There are slang terms for cigarettes in both dialects, but the verb to light up is the same in both AmEng and BrEng.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 25, 2016 at 11:40
  • The formally intransitive multi-word verb 'light up' is very-informal-to-slang, certainly used in the UK, for 'light one's cigarette / cigar ...'. It is a disguised transitive usage, as opposed to 'light/lights/lit... up' in say 'the screen lit up'. The type of DO appearing here is seen in 'light a beacon / lamp ...', but is semantically subtly different from 'fire' in 'light a fire' (the 'fire' in its usual sense not being present to light). Feb 25, 2016 at 11:40
  • There is absolutely nothing odd or awkward about the expression "light a cigarette", so long as you are outside and away from the entrances. Yes, there are maybe a dozen alternative phrases, but most require more comprehension of the idiom to use properly.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 25, 2016 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


Evidence from Ngram suggests that light a cigarette is equally common in BrE and AmE.

  • Have you got a light?

Slang expressions related to smoking:


  • (noun, verb) Source: the word spark relates to fire and in this case is simply referring to the small fire produced by a lighter. Meaning: to light (a cigarette). Context: asking someone else to light a cigarette.
  • How would you use spark in a sentence? "Give us a spark"? "Would you spark this for me?" ??
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 25, 2016 at 11:41
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA Where I'm from, to spark does mean to ignite a smokable substance wrapped in paper, but the substance isn't tobacco.
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 25, 2016 at 11:54
  • @DanBron OK... pot, grass, weed, whatever, could you say how the verb is used in a sentence? "Spark me this joint?" "Does anyone have a spark for this doobie"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 25, 2016 at 11:57
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA More like "Hey dude, you wanna spark?" / "Yeah man, the boss has been riding my ass all day". The verb to spark already embeds the object to be sparked. To mention both in the same sentence would be taken as a bit of a naive pleonasm.
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 25, 2016 at 12:03
  • 2
    @DanBron - I agree with "spark" being used for non-tobacco cigarettes. In my neck of the woods it is commonly heard as "spark-up". As in: "What a day - I need to spark-up, or, "Your eyes look like two cherries on whipped cream - were you outside sparking-up? (NY-US)
    – Oldbag
    Feb 25, 2016 at 12:23

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