lev·​i·​ty | \ ˈle-və-tē \

Definition of levity

1 : excessive or unseemly frivolity She would tolerate no levity in the classroom.
2 : lack of steadiness : changeableness the levity … of the brisk fire— Charles Dickens

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Levity Was Once a Scientific Term

Levity originally was thought to be a physical force exactly like gravity but pulling in the opposite direction, like the helium in a balloon. As recently as the 19th century, scientists were still arguing about its existence. Today levity refers only to lightness in manner. To stern believers of some religious faiths, levity is often regarded as almost sinful. But the word, like its synonym frivolity, now has an old-fashioned ring to it and is usually used only half-seriously.

Examples of levity in a Sentence

They managed to find some levity in the situation. the teachers disapprove of any displays of levity during school assemblies

Recent Examples on the Web

Adding moments of levity was comedian Seth Meyers, joined by wife (and host for the evening) Alexi Ashe Meyers. Vogue, "Headstrong Celebrates Its 6th Annual Gala," 19 Oct. 2018 It was said in a moment of levity at very tense point in debate. Daniela Altimari, courant.com, "Boughton Says 'Fake News' Charge Against The Courant Was Made 'In Jest'," 13 July 2018 Audiences will also find some levity with music in the winter months. Molly Glentzer, Houston Chronicle, "SPA bringing Margaret Atwood, Radiolab's Jad Abumrad to Houston," 21 June 2018 To continue reading this story, TRY IT NOW Later, Van Exel would claim the plea for early vacation was a joke meant to inject levity into a hopeless situation. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Still facing long odds, Spurs aim to bring pride with them on the road," 23 Apr. 2018 In time, Tompkins, an amateur impressionist, became known for his own ability to inject levity into the clubhouse. Dennis Lin, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres' longtime video coordinator embarking on new career," 24 Sep. 2017 The very things associated with it—laughter, levity, enjoyment, diversion—can act as antidotes to stress, depression, and anxiety. Clare Ansberry, WSJ, "An Overlooked Skill in Aging: How to Have Fun," 2 June 2018 Both sought levity and, perhaps, a celebrity: the rooftop bar, about two months old, advertised that Frank Sinatra had loyally visited a previous iteration, for drinks and, maybe, a heartbreaking song. Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker, "Seeking Levity and Celebrity at Ophelia," 14 Apr. 2018 As for the tone of the venture, Nixon has demonstrated an ability to balance serious talking points with levity and a sense of humor. Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, "Cynthia Nixon Adds $4.20 Donation Button to Site," 12 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'levity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of levity

1564, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for levity

Latin levitat-, levitas, from levis light in weight — more at light

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Statistics for levity

Last Updated

22 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for levity

The first known use of levity was in 1564

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English Language Learners Definition of levity

: a lack of seriousness

: an amusing quality

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More from Merriam-Webster on levity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with levity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for levity

Spanish Central: Translation of levity

Nglish: Translation of levity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of levity for Arabic Speakers

Comments on levity

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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