\ ˈlilt How to pronounce lilt (audio) \

Definition of lilt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a spirited and usually cheerful song or tune
2 : a rhythmical swing, flow, or cadence
3 : a springy buoyant movement


lilted; lilting; lilts

Definition of lilt (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to sing or play in a lively cheerful manner

intransitive verb

1 : to sing or speak rhythmically and with fluctuating pitch
2 : to move in a lively springy manner

Examples of lilt in a Sentence

Noun There was a charming lilt to her voice. a tune with a lilt
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tobin, whose speech carried the lilt of his native Ireland, often spoke directly to the jury and demonstrated on himself how to feel the anatomy of the neck. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "Medical expert: 'In a vise,' George Floyd did everything he could as he struggled to breathe," 8 Apr. 2021 Suddenly, there’s a skip in its step and a lilt in the vocals. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, "Demi Lovato’s Redemption Arc Begins," 2 Apr. 2021 Whiting is from Richmond, Virginia, a soft, barely detectable Southern lilt comes across in her words. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Restaurant owner-entrepreneur Vanessa Whiting perseveres past tragedy with ‘people over profit’ mantra," 15 Mar. 2021 Rather than lip-sync the numbers, Day sings them in a voice that has some of Holiday’s signature breathy rasp and delicate lilt, and suggests her ability to move from whimsy to anguish and back in the space of a phrase. New York Times, "‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’ Review: Singing for Her Life," 25 Feb. 2021 Phrases sometimes needed more expressive shape and direction, although the ensemble lent a nice graceful lilt to folksy dances. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Review: Violinist Stefan Jackiw exuded refined nobility at Fort Worth Symphony concert," 9 Jan. 2021 But the youthful lilt in her speech reminds the listener of her age and connects Attah with her target teen audience. Amanda Klarsfeld,, "At 16, this Plantation podcaster offers ‘A Little Perspective’," 17 Nov. 2020 Curreri ended his early verses with a surprising lilt, which gave depth to his wistfulness. Brendan Fitzgerald, Longreads, "“I miss my body when it was ferocious” The Transfiguration of Paul Curreri," 10 Aug. 2020 But Compton’s voice—slightly raspy, with the lilt of a Caribbean accent—was focussed and calm. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "A New Orleans Chef Navigates Disaster," 28 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Jones speaks in a deep baritone, her Robeson County lilt adding bounce and verve to the words. Isabel Spiegel, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Native American Community in Baltimore Reclaims Its History," 5 Oct. 2020 Friedman has matched that sensibility here with songs that slide from lilting, gaslight-era melodiousness into a jagged, more contemporary anxiety. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Lies of Love and Memory Swirl Through ‘Unknown Soldier’," 9 Mar. 2020 The witty script glitters with the couple’s duelling voice-over accounts of the way things happened; the effervescent score, by André Previn, seems to set their voices to lilting music as if in a virtual operetta. The New Yorker, "Quarantine Culture Recommendations: “Better Call Saul,” “Designing Woman,” and Kenneth Branagh," 2 Apr. 2020 Kitty’s voice is also much deeper and more powerful compared to Watson’s lilting, airy singing heard on the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. Ariana Brockington,, "Did We Just Figure Out Who The Elusive Kitty Is On The Masked Singer?," 5 Mar. 2020 Fans of Rogue Wave, Grizzly Bear, Belle and Sebastian, the Shins, and Apples in Stereo will enjoy this mellow, lilting pop. John Adamian,, "Summer Salt, bringing a sonic vacation to Webster Underground," 19 July 2019 Dave Bean Special to The Star Crystal Rose played lilting chamber-pop on the rooftop patio of Messenger Coffee. Bill Brownlee, kansascity, "Built to Spill, Social Distortion fittingly end great music day at Middle of the Map," 1 July 2018 Michael David Winery 2016 Lodi Chardonnay ($16): Here’s a chardonnay so fruity and lilting it invites gulping, but don’t. Mike Dunne, sacbee, "This year's best local wine you can (mostly) get for under $20," 20 June 2018 With his insatiable interest in pop culture, lilting accent and personality that's equal parts innocence and ignorance, Hank offers energetic comic relief in an increasingly dark comedy. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "You should know Anthony Carrigan, 'Gotham' villain turned Bill Hader's 'Barry' foil," 26 Apr. 2018

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


circa 1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1722, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for lilt


Middle English lulten to sound an alarm

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Statistics for lilt

Last Updated

20 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lilt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for lilt



English Language Learners Definition of lilt

: the attractive quality of speech or music that rises and falls in a pleasing pattern


\ ˈlilt How to pronounce lilt (audio) \
lilted; lilting

Kids Definition of lilt

: to sing or play in a lively cheerful manner

More from Merriam-Webster on lilt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lilt

Nglish: Translation of lilt for Spanish Speakers

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