2

I've looked it up in several dictionaries and I've got that the meaning is more or less similar to "cheerful", "carefree" etc. What is not clear enough to me is this point: is someone defined "lighthearted" about a certain situation when they are cheerful because they have no reason to be worried or concerned in that respect, or when they just don't care about that situation (regardless of any possible problem) because they are superficial and irresponsible?

I'll provide an example to clarify what I mean. If someone says "I'm not so lighthearted about my marriage", what does they mean?

  1. There is something in their marriage they are worried about.
  2. They take their marriage seriously and don't make light of it.
2

"Lighthearted" is a personality trait and so is used to describe someone's attitude toward life in general. As such it's not normally applied to any specific concept or situation -- we wouldn't say, "I'm lighthearted about my marriage."

Someone who is lighthearted is unconcerned about things, he is "carefree, optimistic, and generally happy".. For example:

She felt lighthearted and happy in these novel surroundings.

Versatile, lighthearted, boastful and pleasure-loving, Porthos contrasts with the nobler and more intellectual character of Athos in Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeers"

  • Thanks! My example is taken from a mail that i've received by a friend of mine, and i'm a little imbarrassed in answering the mail, as i'm not sure about the real meaning of that phrase. So, which one of the two options i've suggested would be the most likely in your opinion? – mirka rogers Jan 16 '17 at 21:28
  • #1, most likely. "lighthearted" is not the right word to use here, but it might be a modern slang use. – Andrew Jan 16 '17 at 21:37
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In most respects, "lighthearted" expresses a 'low level of worry for' or 'low amount of effort put into' something.

When used in a sentence, it's generally considered as a 'negative' so one would not say "is not lighthearted"; instead, one would say "is heavyhearted".

Unlike your statement,

"...or when they just don't care about that situation (regardless of any possible problem) because they are superficial and irresponsible?",

being lighthearted can mean "they just don't care ["worry", "express a large stake in", or "take something to heart"] about a situation" but why that's the case can be any innumerable reasons.

"He took the insults lightheartedly because he knew they were untrue."

"His lighthearted insults were meant to be funny and not intended to provoke a strong reaction."

"His lighthearted efforts, to keep his room tidy, frustrated his mother."

"He responded to adversity in a lighthearted manner knowing that, eventually, he'd succeed."

  • While I understand what "lighthearted insults" would mean, I don't think that and similar phrases are ever really used. See this Ngram for example. "Lighthearted" is paired with "manner", or "mood", but if you search for "lighthearted insult" you get no results. "Lighthearted effort" is pretty rare. Granted, Ngram isn't the end-all-be-all of English, but it is a good objective tool. – Andrew Jan 16 '17 at 21:43
  • Actually, it seems to me that an insult can't possibly be lighthearted: the word "insult" itself has a connotation of offence and harshness which is the opposite of lightheartedness. Perhaps it would be more a joking leg-pull than a real insult. – mirka rogers Jan 16 '17 at 23:18
  • @Andrew & mirka I've read your comments. Nope, the examples are perfectly appropriate as written. All are commonly understood and commonly used. But the comments were written to also explain what would not be lighthearted. I could replace "lighthearted" with "gosoved" and one would still have an idea what "gosoved" might mean. – James Olson Jan 17 '17 at 13:42
  • @mirkarogers it's possible that an insult can be friendly and in fun, what is idiomatically called a "goodnatured ribbing". Say you're with a friend, and you point and say "Hey, what's that awful thing on your head? Oh, sorry, it's your face!" I'm sure this kind of thing is common everywhere in the world, especially with younger people, as a way of teasing people. – Andrew Jan 17 '17 at 17:02

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