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 Here are some of the things that brought levity to a tough year. Ian Crouch, The New Yorker, "The Best Jokes of 2020," 7 Dec. 2020 Anna Kendrick’s Natalie Keener brings a bit of levity and humanity to the narrative as a young professional learning the ropes while on tour with a reluctant Bingham. Rachel King, Fortune, "The best business documentaries, movies, and TV shows to stream during your time off," 24 Dec. 2020 In her second collection of stories, Danielle Evans maintains the blend of levity and sorrow that marked her debut. Danielle Evans, Star Tribune, "Review: 'The Office of Historical Corrections,' by Danielle Evans," 6 Nov. 2020 The staff has developed ways to cope, and there are signs of levity in the hospital. Sarah Freishtat, chicagotribune.com, "Vaccines are coming. But inside the ICU at Aurora’s Rush Copley hospital, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.," 14 Dec. 2020 Nava said her main goal with the Halloween decorations is to add some levity during these dire times. Alison Medley, Chron, "Skeleton strip club ignites fight between Richmond homeowner and HOA," 27 Oct. 2020 There was basically no levity in Castle Freak at all. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Barbara Crampton: My life in horror, from Re-Animator to Beyond the Gates," 1 Oct. 2020 Ultimately, Lovato's hair change helped bring a bit of levity to the night and served to amplify a greater message in her speech. Sydney Clarke, refinery29.com, "Demi Lovato Stuns With Long, Blonde Hair At The People’s Choice Awards," 16 Nov. 2020 But enough about all of that, take a few minutes and enjoy this moment of levity. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "2020 United States Presidential election memes: Your much-needed moment of levity," 5 Nov. 2020

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

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Levity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levity. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for levity



English Language Learners Definition of levity

somewhat formal
: a lack of seriousness
: an amusing quality

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