light·​ly | \ ˈlīt-lē How to pronounce lightly (audio) \

Definition of lightly

: in a light manner: such as
a : with little weight or force : gently
b : with indifference or carelessness : unconcernedly the problem should not be passed over lightly— Shelly Halpern
c : with little difficulty : easily
e : in an agile manner : nimbly, swiftly the cat leapt lightly onto the table
f : in a small degree or amount lightly salted food

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In front of the window that was broken by the fire, red marks lightly dot the back of some of the legs on the Pondts' dining chairs. Stephanie Elam, CNN, "From a mass shooting to a major wildfire, two California firefighters recount a harrowing 24 hours," 14 June 2019 Cook for 60 to 75 seconds, until the bottom is lightly golden. Bonnie S. Benwick, Twin Cities, "For a dose of comfort, make these classic cheese blintzes," 13 June 2019 Picture the expressions of U.S. Soccer Federation officials every time Alex Morgan went lightly skipping down the pitch and scored another goal in the Americans’ opening match of the women’s World Cup. Sally Jenkins, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. women’s soccer team is an American treasure. Pay them.," 12 June 2019 But even that wears Kuma’s vision—a future in which structures are built for multiple uses over their lifetime and sit lightly on the landscape. Neil Shea, National Geographic, "Tokyo became a megacity by reinventing itself," 12 June 2019 In the pan, lightly sauté chiles in the vegetable oil until slightly caramelized. Soak the peppers in 1 cup water until soft (about 30 minutes). San Diego Union-Tribune, "3 chefs share recipes inspired by their cooking dads," 11 June 2019 Because Justify trampled on the Curse of Apollo, which said no horse could win the Kentucky Derby without running as a 2-year-old, he’ll be talked about as the flag bearer for a new generation of lightly raced Triple Crown contenders. Childs Walker,, "Justify expected to continue racing after Triple Crown triumph," 10 June 2018 He is lightly raced, bred for the distance and in expert hands. Joe Drape, New York Times, "Belmont Stakes 2018: Latest Odds, Picks and Contenders," 8 June 2018 Justify is the undefeated and lightly-raced (three starts) morning line favorite. Bob "railbird" Roberts,, "Kentucky Derby 2018: Newspaper handicappers know the drill," 4 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lightly.' 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 lightly

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for lightly

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lightly

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

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More Definitions for lightly



English Language Learners Definition of lightly

: with little weight or force
: without care or concern : in a way that is not serious
: in a quick and graceful way

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More from Merriam-Webster on lightly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lightly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lightly

Spanish Central: Translation of lightly

Nglish: Translation of lightly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lightly for Arabic Speakers

Comments on lightly

What made you want to look up lightly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing courage and determination

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