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 Last night, Trump emphasized the expansion of oil and gas in the United States while lightly touching on the climate ideas emerging from his party. Scott Waldman, Scientific American, "Trump Touts Tree Planting, But Ignores Climate in State of the Union Speech," 5 Feb. 2020 The decision will not have been taken lightly: predictions for opening weekend ticket sales were as high as 1.4bn yuan. The Economist, "Not showing Coronavirus deals a blow to China’s film industry," 31 Jan. 2020 The Pure Enrichment humidifier comes with a 1.5-liter tank that lightly mists for 16 hours. Popular Science, "Top-notch humidifiers for keeping your home fresh and comfortable," 31 Jan. 2020 Take note, however, that Middle Eastern sesame paste (tahini) is no substitute—the rich flavor of Chinese sesame paste is the result of roasting the sesame seeds to a deep brown, rather than the lightly toasted seeds used in tahini. Sunset Magazine, "The Tender Hand Pulled Noodles and Plump Dumplings We’re Eating on Lunar New Year," 24 Jan. 2020 Still, no one wants to see brain organoids’ potential discarded lightly. Quanta Magazine, "An Ethical Future for Brain Organoids Takes Shape," 23 Jan. 2020 Remove the burrs by laying the inner edge of the blade flat on the stone and then drawing it very lightly across the stone. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How To Get Your Dull Scissors Back To Work," 21 Jan. 2020 To call it a tremendous challenge is putting it lightly. Natasha Frost, Quartz at Work, "Can Boeing’s new CEO rescue the troubled company?," 13 Jan. 2020 Yet on one measure the fire has done less damage: businesses seem to have got off lightly. The Economist, "Australia’s bushfires have left businesses surprisingly unscathed," 23 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for lightly

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for lightly

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lightly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for lightly


How to pronounce lightly (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lightly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lightly

Spanish Central: Translation of lightly

Nglish: Translation of lightly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lightly for Arabic Speakers

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