Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

who is considered a bright spark?

Recommended Posts

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

I have never heard this term, but dictionary says:

noun Brit. informal, often ironic

a clever or witty person.

Sounds like it is often used sarcastically to suggest a person is not clever or witty. Maybe someone from the UK or better-read than I can comment with first-hand insight.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It means somebody with a lot of potential even though it is early in his or her career. I've seen and heard it applied to students as well as junior executives who have just joined a company. The term is not used a lot in American English; perhaps it's more frequent in British English. I'm not familiar with it's ironic use (used to mean the opposite of what it should.)

EDIT: Sounds like I am behind the times (no great surprise there.)


Noun: bright spark

  1. Someone being or trying to be irritatingly clever; a smart alec
    - smart-ass [N. Amer], smart-arse [brit, Cdn], smartypants, smarty, smartie

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it depends on the context in which it is used. It may have a sarcastic undertone in some situations, but generally I'd say it simply refers to a bright person.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your comments, everybody.

So the word is much different from "street-smart", am I right?

I also have the feeling that "street-smart" is slightly disapproving/derogatory.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with everyone's comments about bright spark.

Street-smart as no negative connotation AFAIK - just refers to someone who is good at dealing with issues typical of urban life, though I suppose there could be a criminal element to that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've mostly heard "bright spark" used in a slightly sarcastic way often in a question. For example, "Which bright spark had the idea to free up disk space by deleting all my work files?" I have to confess that I remember my mother using this phrase a lot in my youth.....(and definitely not in a complementary way!)

I agree with tooironic that "street smart" doesn't have negative connotations. It's used for someone who knows how to get things done quickly and efficiently. e.g. "He may not have done well at school but he's pretty street-smart."

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never heard it used sarcastically, to me I've only ever encountered it as a compliment but usually directed to those who are more youthful than the speaker. As to say this kid is quite skillful and infering the kid has a lot of potential for the future.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...