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A clever thought or plan. For example, John had a bright idea for saving space—we would each have a terminal but share the printer. This term uses bright in the sense of “intelligent” or “quick-witted” and may be employed either straightforwardly, as in the example above, or ironically, as in Jumping in the pool with your clothes on—that was some bright idea. [ Late 1800s ]
Contemporary Examples

Why You Should Give LED Light Bulbs for Christmas. Seriously. Daniel Gross December 3, 2013
From Edison to Jobs The Daily Beast September 24, 2014
Val Kilmer for Governor? Lloyd Grove May 10, 2009
Why James Murdoch Might Never Take Over Rupert’s Media Empire Nicholas Wapshott November 21, 2011
Sidney Harman: An Extraordinary Life Jonathan Alter April 12, 2011

Historical Examples

The Angel and the Author – and Others Jerome K. Jerome
Tommy and Co. Jerome K. Jerome
Sally Dows and Other Stories Bret Harte
Seen and Unseen E. Katharine Bates
Dick Cheveley W. H. G. Kingston


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  • Brightline

    (of rules, standards, etc.) unambiguously clear: This muddies the waters of what should be a brightline rule. Physical Chemistry, brightline spectrum.

  • Brightline-spectrum

    the spectrum of an incandescent substance appearing on a spectrogram as one or more bright lines against a dark background.

  • Bright-wool

    the wool of sheep raised east of the Mississippi River.

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