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

These five stories give us a reprieve from the head-desk-inducing vitriol of current events while bringing levity to these sagging summer days. Garrett Mitchell, azcentral, "Five feel-good Arizona stories that have gone viral in 2018 (so far)," 10 July 2018 Katherine Heigl attempted to bring levity to a depressing situation, but her fans weren’t having it. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "Katherine Heigl issues apology after fans blast her for inappropriate photo shoot in a cemetery," 25 June 2018 Yet for all the darkness, there’s a welcome and important dose of levity too, from a hilarious video of a beauty products fair by María Luisa Bemberg to Regina Vater’s playful, costumed self-portrait photographs. New York Times, "The Art of Staying Cool: 10 Can’t-Miss Summer Shows in New York," 4 July 2018 The show wasn’t without moments of levity, thanks to Groban’s and Bareilles’ commendable hosting duties and a number of eye-catching performances from the companies of Mean Girls and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, among others. Nolan Feeney, Billboard, "'The Band's Visit' Wins Big, Parkland Students Make Everyone Cry at 2018 Tony Awards," 10 June 2018 Remember when Bill Clinton, at the Democrats’ 2016 convention, played with balloons, and the people, weary and in such deep need of the levity, pretty much lost their minds? Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Bill Clinton Feels His Own Pain," 4 June 2018 So, in a moment of levity during a short question-and-answer session, pizza came up. Anna Orso, Philly.com, "While he wasn't visiting the White House, Eagle Chris Long video-chatted with N.J. 7th graders," 5 June 2018 Hulu The ambitious first season of this Margaret Atwood adaptation, a zeitgeist hit, began promisingly but ran into serious issues, among them a major tone problem that saw moments of weird levity studding the proceedings. Daniel D'addario, Time, "Best TV Shows of 2018 So Far," 30 May 2018 With all the sanitary seriousness surrounding the fresh beef, there is still some room for levity in the kitchen. Michele Parente, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Where's the beef? For McDonald's Quarter Pounder, not in the freezer," 10 May 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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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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Comments on levity

What made you want to look up levity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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