\ 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 From there Conway, borrowing some Shakespeare, addresses a familiar visitor with his Liverpudlian lilt: Welcome! Quanta Magazine, "A Life in Games," 28 Aug. 2015 Andrews began his tour in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood, where accents buzzed all around: Shanghainese, Korean, English with African or Filipino lilts. Los Angeles Times, "As China pushes in, Hong Kong’s first ethnic minority social worker wants a future for everyone," 23 Aug. 2019 Speaking in wandering streams of consciousness, Williamson has an arresting style and a lilt to her voice, as well as an accent that sounds vaguely aristocratic — or at least nothing like most people who hail from her native Houston. Will Weissert, Fortune, "Marianne Williamson Rides Stream of Consciousness to Debate Spotlight," 31 July 2019 Irmhild is soft-spoken, a German lilt shading certain words, and tall, with a direct gaze. Cassandra Landry,, "Tiny home in Oakland a perfect fit for grandmother," 31 July 2019 Throughout The Gift, the rhythmic trickiness of Nigerian afrobeats and the lilt of Jamaican dembow not only widen the expected palette, but also serve as reminders of how much the African diaspora already shapes Western pop. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Beyoncé Remixed the Meaning of The Lion King," 26 July 2019 But sternness could also disappear in a flash, with a smile, a lilt of his head, a wave of the baton producing a sweet lyricism. Los Angeles Times, "Review: For Gustavo Dudamel, Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ is no mere picnic at the Hollywood Bowl," 24 July 2019 Miles Davis would often start a tune with his back to the audience, and Charlie Parker would address the crowd in a gently mocking lilt. Harry Cooper, WSJ, "Painting With a Bebop Spirit," 21 June 2019 Prince Hamzah’s rich Arabic lilt (acquired during a youth living with tribesmen) appeals to the Bedouin and contrasts with the king, who grew up speaking English. The Economist, "King Abdullah of Jordan fears that old allies are ditching him," 6 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lilt

Statistics for lilt

Time Traveler for lilt

The first known use of lilt was circa 1680

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lilt


How to pronounce lilt (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on lilt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!