- an intelligent and lively person (humorously)
- a clever or funny person
- a smart person full of energy and passion
The idiom is also used sarcastically to mean the opposite.
- a stupid person (example #2,3)
- someone who appears wise but is really not
- Emma is the bright spark of the school – she scored the highest marks in the class.
- Some bright spark at the Bank has accidentally closed my saving account.
- Some bright spark refused to wear masks during the epidemic.
- Luckily there was one bright spark amid the madness, and that was Greg.
- John was a bright spark in an otherwise disappointing season, scoring nine goals.
- Some bright spark picked up a charred stick and used it to draw the first rudimentary picture on a cave wall.
- Olivia is a bright spark and passionate about her job.
According to OED, the earliest citation of the phrase is from 1872. These days the idiom is more often used in sports to describe a player who scores very well or changes the game into a win.
Share your thoughts1 Thought
I remember my late grandfather, [who was an engineer] showing me how to tell the different grades of ferrous metals by holding them to a grinding wheel. Soft iron would produce a dull orange spark, mild steel a slightly whiter forked spark and the 'Bright spark' would be produced by silver steel, or 'tool steel'. Also worth noting that tool steel would produce the sharpest tools. I'm not sure if this was the actual origin of the term, but it's certainly plausible.
- David Hamilton Smith October 15, 2016