- A vivid light, giving off little heat, produced by the combustionof oxygen and hydrogen on a surface of lime. It was invented by ThomasDrummond (1797 - 1840) in 1816. Although it was tried at the SouthForeland lighthouse in 1861, its main use developed in the theater,where it was employed to throw a powerful beam upon one actor to theexclusion of others; the light could be adjusted manually to followan actor around the stage. Hence the phrase to be in the limelight,meaning to be in the full glare of public attention. see lighting.