light·​ly | \ˈlīt-lē \

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

d : gaily, cheerfully

e : in an agile manner : nimbly, swiftly the cat leapt lightly onto the table

f : in a small degree or amount lightly salted food

Keep scrolling for more

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

Add the onion and garlic and allow them to lightly brown by stirring every so often. Nazima Qureshi, SELF, "I'm a Registered Dietitian and Here's What I Learned Going Vegan for a Week," 25 Nov. 2018 Cook coconut, stirring frequently, until wilting, lightly fried and golden brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Max Falkowitz, WSJ, "Flake News: Fresh Coconut Is Delicious," 23 Nov. 2018 Remove from the heat and season lightly with salt and pepper. Joe Yonan, The Seattle Times, "Vegetarian (or vegan) guests for Thanksgiving? Serve them this beauty," 13 Nov. 2018 Roast them for six to eight minutes, until they're lightly toasted. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "How to Make Nut Butter With Any Kind of Nut," 9 Nov. 2018 If storing, before using, lightly whisk the mixture to bring back together any liquid and solids that may have separated. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "Be Ambitious This Thanksgiving: 3 Bold Recipes From One of L.A.’s Most Talked About Restaurants," 2 Nov. 2018 There are three shades: pearly Morning Dew, lightly copper Hot Water, and Clear. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "This 'Glass Highlighter' Gives Your Skin the Most Natural Glow," 29 Oct. 2018 In large bowl, lightly beat 1 large egg, then add dried unseasoned breadcrumbs, chopped dill, mint, parsley, and finely grated lemon zest. Anna Helm Baxter, Good Housekeeping, "Skillet Meatballs," 24 Oct. 2018 Luckily for us, brands like Rebag help with that exclusive handbag addiction, offering lightly used and vintage finds for a fraction of the price of one off the department store shelf. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Rebag Infinity Just Made Shopping Designer Handbags That Much Easier," 12 Oct. 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.

See More

First Known Use of lightly

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lightly

Statistics for lightly

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lightly

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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