\ˈlilt \

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


There was a charming lilt to her voice. a tune with a lilt

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The final Brahms sonata got an immaculate performance by violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley, admirably partnered by Max Levinson at the piano, though a little more of Brahms’ lilt and schmaltz would not have gone amiss. Melinda Bargreen, The Seattle Times, "Seattle Chamber Music Society debuts an ear-boggling piece by a ‘Dark Knight’ composer," 17 July 2018 Chance the Rapper and Kanye West may use gospel elements to give their music a reverent lilt, but the genre hasn’t had many crossover evangelists since Kirk Franklin’s hip-hop bombast brought it to the pop charts in the 1990s. New York Times, "15 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 7 June 2018 Her rendition is slow and meandering, with lilts that lift the melody and then drop it again into quietness. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "What two fictional Gileads can teach us about America in 2018," 12 July 2018 For example, Markle’s vowels might still sound American, but the lilt of the sentence might be less so. Cari Romm, The Cut, "Linguists Explain Meghan Markle’s Apparent New British Accent," 10 July 2018 And Adam Cork’s music is full of the blarney of Celtic lilt. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Orlando Bloom and Aidan Turner Are Drenched in Blood in London," 4 July 2018 You’ll be filled by the generous portions, but make room for the wonderful Gigi’s Cream Corn Soufflé ($6), which recalled Indian pudding with a Caribbean lilt. Stephanie Schorow,, "Spice up your palate with Haitian delights," 8 June 2018 The track has a bossa nova swing, but Reinhart's vocals — showcased on season 10 of American Idol — have the lilt of low-fi pop. Rebecca Farley,, "Haley Reinhart's "Last Kiss Goodbye" Has All Of Your Favorite Things," 31 May 2018 The voice is unmistakable: an Irish lilt softened over decades of living here in America, resulting in an accent that is entirely Brosnan's own. Drew Magary, GQ, "Pierce Brosnan Has Found Beauty and Inspiration During Our Helltimes," 16 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 On the album, Mr. Sosa ornaments the space around Mr. Keita’s playing with lilting undercurrents and deftly studded terrain. New York Times, "13 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in NYC This Weekend," 15 Mar. 2018 On some days inside that glitzy office, the soundtrack to his view is Spotify, lilting Grateful Dead music. Dana Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Steve Simon: Deadhead, tree hugger, extremely private business whiz, Pacers heir," 4 Jan. 2018 The most graceful representative of the grape among the California bottles was the Castelli Vineyards 2012 Green Valley of Russian River Valley Nebbiolo ($34), notable for its welcoming fragrance and complex yet lilting red-fruit flavors. Mike Dunne, sacbee, "Nebbiolo, the wine equivalent of winter’s woodpile," 16 Jan. 2018 The film’s lilting score by Marcelo Zarvos (Fences, Brooklyn’s Finest) underscores the magic and childhood wonder in Pullman’s life. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Go Behind The Scenes of Marcelo Zarvos' Score for Julia Roberts' New Film 'Wonder': Exclusive," 17 Nov. 2017 With her long blonde hair, lilting soprano and acoustic guitar, the enduring image of the singer-songwriter icon is one that dates back to the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "Joni Mitchell biography 'Reckless Daughter' looks at icon's thorny life from both sides," 27 Oct. 2017

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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Dictionary Entries near lilt






lilting skip


Statistics for lilt

Last Updated

24 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lilt

The first known use of lilt was circa 1680

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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 \
lilted; lilting

Kids Definition of lilt

: to sing or play in a lively cheerful manner

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More from Merriam-Webster on lilt

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lilt

Spanish Central: Translation of lilt

Nglish: Translation of lilt for Spanish Speakers

Comments on lilt

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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