The idiom “on a lighter note” gets used a lot, and it helps to know what it means. Before you come across it and get lost with the meaning, we put together this article to help you understand how to use it yourself.
What Does “On A Lighter Note” Mean?
“On a lighter note” means that we’re moving on from a serious topic to something less serious. We usually say it after we’ve introduced a serious or problematic idea, and we want to turn the discussion or conversation into something more friendly or “light.”
The definition of “light,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “entertaining and easily understood, but not serious and not intended to make you think.”
As you can see from this definition, talking about a “lighter note” means it’s less serious than the note we put forward previously. It’s designed to take people away from thinking too much about something and worry about more minor problems.
Examples Of How To Use “On A Lighter Note” In A Sentence
To help you understand the phrase slightly better, we thought we’d include some examples.
“On a lighter note” works best when we’re steering a discussion or conversation away from a more serious topic. We want to use it to turn to the “lighter” side of a conversation, especially if the more serious topic was thought-provoking or exhausting in some way.
- We’ve talked a lot about the political nature of our local council. On a lighter note, my wife is giving birth tomorrow!
- I don’t want to hear any more bad news! On a lighter note, we’ve got a new dog, and he’d love to meet you!
- On a lighter note, it’s not all doom and gloom because the weather outside is wonderful!
- Moving away from the disasters abroad, more people are finding fun in the simplest things on a lighter note.
- We can talk about your problems all day, but I think you should play some crazy gold with me on a lighter note.
As you can see, “on a lighter note” is something that we can start or end a clause with. In either case, we’ll use it to draw attention away from a more serious topic and focus on less powerful questions or entertaining ideas.
Sometimes, “on a lighter note” is best to keep us away from dangerous topics which might promote unnecessary arguments or fights between the people involved. If you feel like tension is growing, swaying away from the topic with “on a lighter note” may be what you need.
Of course, it doesn’t always work, as you often use it to take away from the gravity of a situation. For that reason, you shouldn’t use it in formal situations or at the wrong time as it may offend people because it’s considered sarcastic and belittling in the wrong contexts.
Does “On A Positive Note” And “On A Lighter Note” Mean The Same?
“On a positive note” and “on a lighter note” mean a similar thing, but not the same. “On a positive note” turns the discussion away from a bad thing, while “on a lighter note” turns it away from a serious thing.
To help you understand this, we recommend you check out the following:
- Bad things are serious
- Serious things aren’t always bad
For that reason, “on a positive note” works best when you’re delivering bad news, as follows:
- Correct: Your mother only has a few weeks left to live. On a positive note, she’s taken the news in her stride and is such a joy to be around.
- Correct: Your mother only has a few weeks left to live. On a lighter note, she’s taken the news in her stride and is such a joy to be around.
In this case, “on a positive note” and “on a lighter note” take away from the “bad” part of the first sentence.
However, serious topics don’t always have to be bad, which is why “on a positive note” and “on a lighter note” aren’t synonymous.
- Correct: We’ve had plenty of exciting topics to discuss in our meeting today! On a lighter note, I think it’s time to hit the pub!
- Incorrect: We’ve had plenty of exciting topics to discuss in our meeting today! On a positive note, I think it’s time to hit the pub!
Here, the “exciting topics” were not “bad,” but they would have at least been “serious.” For that reason, “on a lighter note” works here, but “on a positive note” does not.
Is “On A Lighter Note” Formal?
“On a lighter note” is not formal in most cases. We shouldn’t use it when we’re trying to take away from the tension of serious topics. However, in some formal situations (like a government meeting), it might work to ease the air a little.
Generally, you will want to avoid “on a lighter note” in formal contexts. It’s best to stick to informal situations and casual conversations when you want to use them. That way, you won’t offend anyone by saying it.
And remember, if you use it at the wrong time, it might still be offensive, even in informal situations.
On A Lighter Note – Antonyms
To finish, we’ve got some antonyms to go over with you. You should use these words and phrases to give the opposite meaning of what “on a lighter note” conveys.
- On a serious note
- On a more serious note
- In all seriousness
- To add to that
- To make matters worse
“On a lighter note” takes the situation away from something that’s serious and makes it more entertaining. The above antonyms do the opposite and take away from an entertaining or light-hearted situation to make it more serious.
On A Lighter Note – Synonyms
Now let’s go over some synonyms. You should use these words to convey an identical meaning to what “on a lighter note” offers.
- Moving on from that
- In happier news
- For a bit of fun
There aren’t as many synonyms, but all of these words and phrases work well to deliver more light-hearted news, just like “on a lighter note.”