I was trying to figure out how to say something like "|undim| the light" in the meaning of "restore the previous amount of light" as an opposite of "dim the light" but have no idea what word or phrase I should use.

I was thinking of "brighten" but it implies a different feel to the phrase, something like "make it brighter than it is now".

The dictionaries give so many antonyms to dim and its synonyms (like dull, faint, darken, subdue) that makes it even harder to choose.

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    "Brighten" sounds like the most likely answer to me. What is this "different feel to the phrase", or why do you think "brighten" doesn't work?
    – Em.
    Jun 28, 2017 at 8:17
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    When I lower the light in a room, I dim the light. A dull-witted person is referred to as a dim bulb. These two examples may help you to grasp how we use "dim" in English. The opposite expression is to brighten or to turn up the light. Of the two, turn up is most common. Most native USAian speakers wouldn't say "dim the light," anyway; they would say "turn down the light." Jun 28, 2017 at 9:39
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    I found "bring the light back up" but I am unsure whether it really means what I want. Jun 28, 2017 at 12:30
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    back up means restore the thing (light, sound) to its previous higher intensity or level. Not sure why you're getting hung up on "state". "Bring the light back up to where it was." It is not a precise/scientific locution. where there refers to its level/intensity, not its physical location.
    – TimR
    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:37
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    @userr2684291: turn ... back up works (even if it is a slider switch and not a twist knob); back appears in both and it is back which suggests a degree of departure from the prior state. I don't think bring intensifies that degree of departure any more than turn.
    – TimR
    Jun 28, 2017 at 16:07

2 Answers 2


It depends on how exactly the state of the brightness of the lights needs to match the pre-dimmed state, and what level the brighter setting is. I.e. if you just want the lights set brighter than they currently are, or to be set to the highest brightness setting, you can be less specific in your instruction.

My choice for a less specific instruction would be (as mentioned in several comments):

turn up the lights / turn the lights up - if the lights were not previously set lower/if the lights being previously set lower is irrelevant
turn the lights back up - if the lights were previously dimmed

The second of these gives the implication of returning to a previous state, but doesn't explicitly say that it must be to exactly the previous state.
Turn is especially suitable if it is a rotating dimmer switch

If there is a specific setting for the lights to be returned to (e.g. going from 1/4 brightness to 1/2 brightness, or changing to half of the lights at full brightness, half of the lights at 1/2 brightness) then you need to be more specific about it. Words like reset, restore, return or redo may be appropriate.
Note, however, that these terms do not specify that the lights are to be brightened.

Also note that just saying:

do the lights

may well be understood in the context. It can also be used to mean dim the lights; for example before a slideshow you could say "do the lights" to mean dim the lights and afterwards also say "do the lights" to mean make the lights bright again.


I have found "bring the light back up" which means "restore it to a previous condition".

As @Tᴚoɯɐuo commented, back refers to a previous state.

On the other hand "restore" (to bring back to or put back into a former or original state) seems to fit too.

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    +1 for 'bring the lights back up'. In a film studio setting you'd normally hear 'lights'. If they were currently dimmed this would mean 'bring them back up again'. And if they were bright this would mean 'dim them'. You can even say 'undim'.
    – Dan
    Jun 28, 2017 at 13:04

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