Learn English – “Turn out the light” vs “Turn off the light”


What is the difference between "turn out the lights" and "turn off the lights"? Are they interchangeable? Which one seems more appropriate if there is no difference?

Best Answer

I will hazard a guess:

There were no more trams in Denmark after 1972 - however my grandmother would tell me to take the tram for another 20 years.

They had petroleum lamps in their summer house, and when you wanted to turn off the light, you turned a brass knob until the wick was low and blew out the flame or turned it further down so the flame went out. Similar with gas lights. That is turning the lights out.

Since then, we flick a switch on and off. Turning the lights off is then taking over.

The expression does not seem to have waned much in popularity though:

Google ngram


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