\ 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

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 For the next 30 years, until his death in 1925, the French Impressionist painted hundreds of different-sized canvasses, filled with images of his backyard lily ponds. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, 27 July 2022 To gild the lily for this recipe, some warm spices and musky lime zest tie it all together. Christian Reynoso, Bon Appétit, 25 July 2022 Suwa’s section isn’t as narratively propulsive as Santi’s; the coda, which gives us a flash-forward peek into the future, feels a bit like gilding the lily. Los Angeles Times, 25 July 2022 Gilding the lily: Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Rita Nader Heikenfeld, The Enquirer, 23 July 2022 The heart of the scent features pink rose, tuberose, and gardenia, with a base of lily, jasmine, and musks. Tynan Sinks, Allure, 19 July 2022 The giant lily is found in freshwater rivers, ponds and floodplains in northeastern Bolivia. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 July 2022 Frankly, the heavy cream would only have gilded the lily and then drowned it in cream. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 21 June 2022 According to the Smithsonian magazine, the lily used to be located all over the Southeast. Haley Laurence |, al, 19 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Guests including Aaron Philip, Martha Hunt, Richie Shazam, Maria Alia Al-Sadek, Carole Radziwill, and Adam Kenworthy were welcomed to beautiful grounds with summery cocktails and canapés, which were enjoyed by the lily pond and dipping pool. Eliseé Browchuk, Vogue, 11 July 2022 Glass surrounds the east- and west-facing doors for views of the Plaza de Panama and the lily pond. San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 June 2022 Good Kind Pure's sweet vanilla mist laced with spicy ginger and a lily note for a hint of softness and sophistication. April Franzino, Good Housekeeping, 22 July 2022 Lucy Smith, a botanical artist with experience working with lily pads, was brought on to draw illustrations of Magdalena’s various lily pad species. Dylan Butts, NBC News, 4 July 2022 For the intimate affair, Stefani wore a custom lily white Vera Wang Haute silk georgette gown with a sweetheart plunging neckline, cut away back, fitted bodice and high low hand tumbled tulle skirt. Amethyst Tate,, 4 July 2022 Scientists initially believed there were only two subspecies of giant lily pads, the Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruziana. Dylan Butts, NBC News, 4 July 2022 When not winning major tennis championships and breaking barriers in one of the most lily-white sports at the time, Ashe was a vocal advocate for civil rights, even getting arrested in 1985 for protesting apartheid outside the South African embassy. Leah Asmelash, CNN, 24 June 2022 Especially lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of Max, a charming black-and-white cat tripping daintily over rocks amid the pond’s lily pads while stalking the resident goldfish. Nicole Sours Larson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near lily

lilting skip


lily family

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Statistics for lily

Last Updated

29 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lily.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for lily


\ 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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