For as long as I can remember I've believed that the word alight could also be used to mean something like took flight, or took to the air. As in: "The bird alighted from the branch." Or: "His prayers alighted to heaven." Of course the normal usage is precisely the opposite: "The bird alighted onto the branch." But I always took this to be similar to how cleave usually means to split apart, but can also mean to come together in the right context.

Recently, I needed to use alight in this way, and on looking it up found no dictionary that supports such a usage. So while it's a little surreal to me, I'm starting to wonder if I've just been flat-out wrong about the word for however many decades. Is the word alight ever used in the above sense? If not, is there anything (an idiom, an archaic usage, etc.) that might explain where I got such a strong impression?


Most dictionaries give the following definition for "alight":

Descend from a train, bus, or other form of transport

As an adjective, "alight" is defined as--

On fire; burning


Shining brightly

Source: Oxford

In its archaic version, "alight" means to "come by chance."

Source: Merriam

As such, in your case, I think you may have just got the definition the other way around. "Alight" simply means "settle down" rather than "take off."

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