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Lights are the lungs of pigs, sheep, etc. used as food. In Britain they are usually served only to pets, although in other times and cultures people have happily consumed them, and they lurk in many a pâté and sausage. The word is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and until comparatively recently it meant ‘lungs’ in general. And these two words are etymologically connected: lights were so named because they weigh very little, and lung is traceable back to a hypothetical Indo-European root lnggh- from which English light, ‘not heavy’ is ultimately derived. Some Celtic languages show a similar association of meanings; the Old Irish word scaman, for instance, was used for both ‘lungs’ and the adjective ‘light’.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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