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

And the complexities of his suicide, and the illness that drove it, are only lightly touched upon. Matthew Gilbert,, "HBO documentary a sad but satisfying visit with Robin Williams," 11 July 2018 Slowly descend your butt toward the bench, touch lightly and stand up to start position, pushing through your heels and breathing out. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Stepping up your training can boost your heart, lower-body muscles," 11 July 2018 Slowly, his bedroom door creaked open, like a hand was lightly touching it. Ilana Strauss, The Cut, "What Is Sleep Paralysis, and How Do You Stop It?," 12 Apr. 2018 The first order of business should be to do them no harm and ensure that new buildings are compatible and the bypass touches the ground lightly. Blair Kamin,, "Around Wrigley Field, a high-stakes urban design drama plays out as buildings fall and rise," 6 Apr. 2018 Place wedges on the grate, being sure to shake off excess liquid, close the lid, and grill until lightly golden brown and just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning often. Polly Campbell,, "Big Green Eggs: A cult or a cooking method?," 6 July 2018 Pompeo’s two-day meeting in North Korea also shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially since Kim is allegedly hiding nuclear facilities. Madeleine Ngo, Vox, "Trump gifted Kim Jong Un an Elton John CD with the song “Rocket Man”," 6 July 2018 Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Hannah Walhout, Smithsonian, "Forget Baguettes — Why In-the-Know Bread Lovers Should be Heading to the Caucasus (Recipe)," 5 July 2018 This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. NBC News, "Jared Leto on movies, tech and almost everything else," 11 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.

See More

First Known Use of lightly

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lightly

Phrases Related to lightly

take lightly

tread lightly

Statistics for lightly

Last Updated

8 Oct 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

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).


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

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!