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 That streak gets extended here, bigtime. Director Sam Raimi tries to salvage this mess with his trademark flourishes of levity, over-the-top gore and kinetic camera movement. Rob Salkowitz, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Appropriately, John was the one who came up with the album's now-iconic name, inserting a little levity into the sublimely torturous experience. Lanford Beard, PEOPLE.com, 2 Apr. 2022 Those lines seem harrowing, but Hutson’s wit often cuts between the toughest moments to bring in levity. Caitlin Wolper, SPIN, 28 Apr. 2022 As lawmakers slowly trickled on to the House floor for votes Wednesday evening, Democrats sought to bring some levity to the tense atmosphere. Melanie Zanona, CNN, 9 Mar. 2022 These past two years have been no laughing matter for the medical community, but Scrubs is here to bring some levity to our lives. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 27 Jan. 2022 McLean’s jaunty performance introduces some of the few moments of levity in the musical; otherwise a general stiffness pervades the production. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2022 An arresting piece from Elie Saab’s spring 2022 couture collection provided the right amount of levity. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 28 Mar. 2022 Far from being depressing, however, the boppy tune and a slick filter add a darkly comic element to the narrative, showing how there’s a bit of levity in even the most horrific stories. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 23 Mar. 2022 See More

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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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Levity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levity. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on levity

Nglish: Translation of levity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of levity for Arabic Speakers


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