What Does Greased Lightning Mean?

Greased Lightning Meaning

Definition: Extremely fast. 

This phrase is commonly used as a simile.

Origin of Greased Lightning

This expression was first used in an English newspaper in the year 1833 to describe someone who spoke very quickly. Before this, lightning had already been used to describe fast things, and greased was added as an intensifier. 

The idea behind this phrase is that grease is used as a lubricant to make something move more smoothly or more quickly.

Examples of Greased Lightning

greased lightening or greased lightning?In this dialogue, the expression is used to refer to two siblings who are playing soccer.

Maria: Wow! You’re really getting fast. I guess all that practice is finally paying off!

Franco: Yeah, I know! I’m like greased lightning!

Maria: I’m not sure I would go that far, but you’re definitely getting faster.

the chicks will cream for greased lightningThe second example shows two university students using the expression to discuss a test they just finished.

Lorenzo: That was the worst test of my life.

Alba: It didn’t seem that bad.

Lorenzo: Of course you would say that. I can’t believe how fast you finished that test! It took me forever.

Alba: I know. The professor almost had to kick you out of the classroom. What took you so long?

Lorenzo: I don’t know. That’s just how long it took me to finish. I knew how to answer all the questions, but there were so many steps to each problem, and I wanted to double-check all my answers too. But, you! You were like greased lightning. How did you do that?

Alba: Well, I studied a lot.

Lorenzo: Even so, that was very impressive!

More Examples

This article excerpt includes a quote in which a man uses the expression to describe how quickly his bride thinks.

  • Wearing a tuxedo, a red bow tie and old-school eyeglasses, Mr. Barringer said, “I love how you think, full of reason, like greased lightning, like a quantum computer.” –New York Times

The below quote shows the expression being used to describe one’s mental quickness rather than one’s physical quickness. This quote involves one comedian using the expression to describe another who had a very quick wit.

  • “Mitch was greased lightning, Mitch was the light,” a comedian named Randy Kagan insisted between fits of tears. –New York Times

Summary

The phrase greased lightning is a descriptive expression, often used as a simile, which can be used to describe anything or anyone that is quick.

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