lev·​i·​ty ˈle-və-tē How to pronounce levity (audio)
: excessive or unseemly frivolity
She would tolerate no levity in the classroom.
: lack of steadiness : changeableness
the levity … of the brisk fireCharles Dickens

Did you know?

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 Thanks to both for bringing levity and drunken pantry pasta and Chengdu chai and grandma pizza and Caesar-ish salad into our lives. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 At first, her return is met with laughter and levity. Cara Lynn Shultz, Peoplemag, 13 Nov. 2023 The clips quickly became a refuge for people seeking levity during the pandemic. Taylor Mims, Billboard, 8 Nov. 2023 The book normalizes tandem breastfeeding and brings some levity to what can be a stressful time for a growing family. Maya Polton, Parents, 16 Oct. 2023 There were occasional moments of levity, according to screenshots that prosecutors displayed in court. David Yaffe-Bellany, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2023 There was such lightness and levity to him, Parizzi said. Marina Dias, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 And also that there’s a levity to the scenes, and certainly to the one in the kitchen. Kate Aurthur, Variety, 2 Aug. 2023 Mbaye intertwines moments of levity and introspection throughout dinner, and manages to convey both a deep pride for this cuisine and a sense of purpose. Elazar Sontag, Bon Appétit, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'levity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1564, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of levity was in 1564

Dictionary Entries Near levity

Cite this Entry

“Levity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levity. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


lev·​i·​ty ˈlev-ət-ē How to pronounce levity (audio)
plural levities
: a lack of seriousness often at an improper time : frivolity

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