Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
lighter, n.1[f. LIGHT v.1 (sense 2) + -ER1, or ad. Du. lichter of equivalent formation.]
A boat or vessel, usually a flat-bottomed barge, used in lightening or unloading (sometimes loading) ships that cannot be discharged (or loaded) at a wharf, etc., and for transporting goods of any kind, usually in a harbour.1487 in Arnolde Chron. (1811) 113 R. A. shall haue free choise..for the said tonne wyne to be taken in the lighter at his plesur. 1545 in R. G. Marsden Sel. Pl. Crt. Adm. I. (1894) 137 Suche goodes wares or merchandises which is [laden] into any suche lyghter or lyghters to thintent to cary the same..from land aborde any shyppe or from borde any shippe to land.
1634 W. WOOD New Eng. Prosp. (1865) 47 These flatts make it unnavigable for shippes, yet at high water great Boates, Loiters, and Pinnaces of 20, and 30 tun, may saile up to the plantation. 1728 POPE Dunc. II. 275 He said, and climb'd a stranded Lighter's height. 1776 ADAM SMITH W.N. V. i. (1869) II. 307 The lighters which sail upon a navigable canal. 1878 HUXLEY Physiogr. 2 Barges, lighters, and other boats are thus enabled..to float up or down the river.transf. 1831 LAMB Elia Ser. II. To Shade of Elliston, What tearing off of histrionic robes..before the surly Ferryman will admit you to set a foot within his battered lighter.
b. attrib. and Comb., as lighter-boat, -builder, -master. Also LIGHTERMAN.
1610 J. GUILLIM Heraldry IV. ii. (1611) 216 He beareth or a lighter boat in fesse gules.
1638 Plymouth Col. Rec. (1855) I. 94 The leighter master shall haue tenn shillings for his man & his leighter for xxiiij howers.
1640 in T. Lechford's Note-Bk. (1885) 375 One Lighter boate of the burthen of twenty tunnes. 1722 DE FOE Plague (1754) 112 Lighter-builders [were] idle, and laid by. NOT1. One who lights or kindles. Also lighter-up (see quot. 1921).1553 BECON Reliques of Rome (1563) 26* A lighter and carier of candels.
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