\ ˈli-lē How to pronounce lily (audio) \
plural lilies

Definition of lily

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of a genus (Lilium of the family Liliaceae, the lily family) of erect perennial leafy-stemmed bulbous herbs that are native to the temperate northern hemisphere and are widely cultivated for their showy flowers broadly : any of various plants of the lily family or of the related amaryllis or iris families
2 : any of various plants with showy flowers: such as
a : a scarlet anemone (Anemone coronaria) of the Mediterranean region



Definition of lily (Entry 2 of 2)

: resembling a lily in fairness, purity, or fragility my lady's lily hand— John Keats

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Other Words from lily


lily-like or lilylike \ ˈli-​lē-​ˌlīk How to pronounce lily (audio) \ adjective

Examples of lily in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The nursery offers unique plants hard to find almost anywhere else, from bromeliads like aechmea blanchetiana to the ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ eucomis, but Mostul is particularly fond of scadoxis plemeseus, often referred to as a paintbrush lily. oregonlive, 27 Apr. 2021 Tuberose, by the way, is a plant native to Mexico whose name refers to its tuberous roots, not at all to rose, and indeed, its smell is closer to that of lily, but with a fascinating camphorlike quality. New York Times, 12 May 2021 Instead of a mass of blooms, the trout lily presents a single large flower, a nodding yellow lily amid lancelike foliage. Washington Post, 12 May 2021 Kate's bouquet featured myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, hyacinth, and sweet William, a nod to the groom. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, 20 Apr. 2021 Also my Asian lily has some green growth under the mulch. Ellen Nibali,, 7 Apr. 2021 Other new trees planned for the site are fruitless olive trees, crepe myrtle and Washingtonia palms as well as agave, aloe, flax lily and other shrubs and ground cover. San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Mar. 2021 The lily, a sweetly fragrant flower, is a traditional symbol of Easter. Tanya Edwards, CNN Underscored, 26 Mar. 2021 The McQueen lily brooch in antique silver not only looks slightly past its prime, but also, on close inspection, as noted by the New York gem dealer and jewelry historian Benjamin Zucker, has minuscule skulls and crossbones atop its pistils. New York Times, 24 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective At the ceremony on May 15, the pop goddess wore towering heels under her lily-white gown, designed by Vera Wang, and a romantic version of her classic half-up, half-down hair under a veil with an adorable satin bow. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, 26 May 2021 An onion-like member of the lily family, ramps look like scallions but taste like a cross between onion and garlic. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 5 May 2021 Juggernauts like Fifty Shades nabbed film adaptations, but predominantly, romance readers had to settle for the likes of chaste, low-budget Lacey Chabert Hallmark vehicles aimed squarely at a lily-white demographic. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 14 Apr. 2021 Many steps down from the main house is the crown jewel of the estate: a Roman-style reflective pool, with intricate curved stairways and stunning arches, surrounded by lush greenery and a lily pond. Annie Vainshtein, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Mar. 2021 There are some plants — including many lily species — that are out-and-out dangerous to dogs and cats. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Mar. 2021 Revo is a beautiful piece of machinery for the fisherman who’s looking to up his game—say, drop that next cast right to the edge of the lily pads, where a monster bass is waiting. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 5 Mar. 2021 Linger at the Farm Pond platforms, watching snapping turtles plow through the lily pads. Jeanine Barone,, 4 Mar. 2021 Last March, as lockdowns and sheltering-in-place began to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary Ann Kutnick, 71, co-owner of Schaefer Greenhouses in Montgomery, found herself with 10,000 lily plants that didn’t appear headed anywhere. David Sharos,, 3 Mar. 2021

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lily


Middle English lilie, from Old English, from Latin lilium

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Time Traveler for lily

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for lily

Last Updated

30 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lily.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for lily



English Language Learners Definition of lily

: a type of plant that has large white or colorful bell-shaped flowers also : the flower


\ ˈli-lē How to pronounce lily (audio) \
plural lilies

Kids Definition of lily

: a plant (as the Easter lily or the tiger lily ) that grows from a bulb and has a leafy stem and showy funnel-shaped flowers

More from Merriam-Webster on lily

Nglish: Translation of lily for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lily for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about lily


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