lev·​i·​ty | \ ˈle-və-tē How to pronounce levity (audio) \

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

To add a little levity, try bringing GIFs and emojis to the game. Maggie Gordon, Houston Chronicle, "Stop texting the eggplant emoji," 25 Apr. 2018 Though many of the images carry a psychological burden, others have a levity, a spirited overture to rejoice in the landscape, its light, the journey itself. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Weekly Reads from Art City (Feb. 16)," 15 Feb. 2018 Some protesters drew memes and used levity to bring attention to a serious issue. Washington Post, "‘I survived, my daughter didn’t’: Signs from the March for Our Lives," 24 Mar. 2018 Cherchesov, widely criticized before the tournament, hadn’t even finished his attempt at levity before he was summoned away from the post-game news conference to take a call. Kevin Baxter, latimes.com, "Russia beats Saudi Arabia 5-0 for first World Cup win in 16 years," 14 June 2018 At a time of intractable political differences and extreme partisan divides, the annual Republican vs. Democrat game is more three hours of levity and gamesmanship than solution to any grand problems. Phil Mattingly, CNN, "One year after grievous gunshot wound, Steve Scalise takes the field," 14 June 2018 Cling wrap brings levity and familiarity to sentences that might otherwise read as idiosyncratic or cryptic. Simone White, New York Times, "Poem: From ‘We Are Here to Slow Time’," 13 June 2018 Still, The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t known for it levity. Meagan Fredette, refinery29.com, "The Handmaid’s Tale’s Creator Hinted About Offred’s Baby’s Future In Season 3," 10 June 2018 From the dugout, Brock the Brick kept his eyes on the ball during games throughout the season, serving as a source of levity for team members. Melanie Feuk, Houston Chronicle, "Kingwood Park baseball’s unofficial mascot keeps the dugout lighthearted as team approaches state semifinal June 7," 7 June 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

somewhat formal
: 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

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behavior toward others

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