light·​ly ˈlīt-lē How to pronounce lightly (audio)
: in a light manner: such as
: with little weight or force : gently
: with indifference or carelessness : unconcernedly
the problem should not be passed over lightlyShelly Halpern
: with little difficulty : easily
: in an agile manner : nimbly, swiftly
the cat leapt lightly onto the table
: in a small degree or amount
lightly salted food

Examples of lightly in a Sentence

He talks lightly about the problems he's been having at work. She moved lightly across the room. These vegetables can be eaten either raw or lightly cooked. Our troops were armed too lightly to take on the heavily armed invaders. Considering the harm he did, he's gotten off lightly with only a warning. The judge let her off lightly with a short sentence. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Thankfully, Kweli was just shaken up, and his toe only lightly nipped, but Matilda’s overzealous greeting wasn’t an ideal start to what was supposed to be a relaxing getaway. Anja Mutic, Travel + Leisure, 22 Sep. 2023 On the day of serving, bring the potatoes to room temperature or warm lightly on the stovetop before assembling the salad as directed. Marianne Williams, Southern Living, 22 Sep. 2023 With lightly greased hands or a lightly greased rubber spatula, pat mixture evenly over the cookie layer in pan. Bhg Test Kitchen, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Sep. 2023 Military officials could not immediately explain why the pilot parachuted from the plane, but experts and former F-35 pilots said such a decision would not be made lightly. Erik Ortiz, NBC News, 20 Sep. 2023 Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Leah Koenig, Saveur, 20 Sep. 2023 Beyoncé’s fans do not take an assignment from Queen Bey lightly. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 19 Sep. 2023 Designers often use leucothoes in dappled sun and lightly shaded areas. Karen Hugg, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 Elsewhere, Malia and Jordan are both sparking with Kory, but his attentions divided (to put it lightly). Stephanie Wenger, Peoplemag, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lightly was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near lightly

Cite this Entry

“Lightly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on lightly

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!