\ 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 lilylike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of lily in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Take a deep breath and smell the lilies and paulownia blossoms, warm and blushing in the sunshine. Aj Willingham, CNN, "All The Good Stuff that happened this week," 9 May 2020 If your soil is not well draining plant the lilies in a bed raised above the soil line. oregonlive, "Need help deterring pests in the garden? Ask an expert," 2 May 2020 Her preparations included planting more than 1,000 bulb flowers in autumn then 1,000 lilies in January. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, "Floral retailers across the state stuck with thousands of Easter flowers," 12 Apr. 2020 Once the flowers have faded, plant your lily in the garden, and enjoy more blooms in years to come. Dan Gill,, "Don't toss out those faded Easter lilies. Here's how to plant them," 7 Apr. 2018 For best results, plant lilies in groups of three or five identical bulbs. Taylor Murphy, House Beautiful, "8 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Lilies," 14 July 2015 Its water cream is made with Japanese wild rose and leopard lily. Antonina Jedrzejczak,, "This Mother’s Day, Get Mom What She’s Missing the Most," 7 May 2020 There appeared to be no shortage of homemade mint juleps or Kentucky Oaks lilies. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "How Louisville celebrated the Kentucky Derby Day that wasn't, thanks to the coronavirus," 2 May 2020 Thanks to the donation of Uncle John’s Plant Farm, lilies overflowed the church’s front steps along Columbia Road on Easter morning. cleveland, "Local family creates circuit training course at home during coronavirus pandemic: Olmsted Dates and Data," 13 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The lily family, Liliaceae, is a third plant family with many succulent members. Washington Post, "Low-maintenance succulents make watering a breeze," 14 Jan. 2020 The lily family, Liliaceae, is a third plant family with many succulent members. NBC News, "Kill all your plants? These low-maintenance options require minimal watering," 14 Jan. 2020 But for the more immediate future, the ability to compete in lily-white districts (presumably without sacrificing any basic progressive commitments) could definitely help Democrats win and maintain a House majority. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Lamb Win Could Point to Democratic Resurgence in Lily-white Districts," 14 Mar. 2018 While this year’s list of Golden Globes nominees isn’t as lily-white as, say, the Oscars typically are, the slate is still lacking inclusivity; out of 30 acting nominees in the film categories, just five are not white. Yohana Desta, HWD, "Why Were Tiffany Haddish and Girls Trip Shut Out of the Golden Globes?," 11 Dec. 2017 Yams are a starchy edible root that is a relative of the lily family. Terri Milligan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Is it a yam or a sweet potato?," 24 Sep. 2017 But every happy family in the kitschy illustrations is lily-white, signaling a restrictive environment, even if it's not declared as such. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Suburbicon': Film Review | Venice 2017," 2 Sep. 2017 The small, lily-white, conservative rural school into which Alexie transferred as a boy became his haven. Laura Miller, Slate Magazine, "Sherman Alexie’s terrific book is the latest entry in a burgeoning genre: memoirs of moms.," 23 June 2017 The leaves resemble little lily pads popping up on stems like something out of Wonderland. Kenneth Setzer,, "Fairchild's Tropical Garden Column: What’s that weed? Meet marsh pennywort," 4 Aug. 2017

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

12 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lily.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for lily


How to pronounce lily (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on lily

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lily

Spanish Central: Translation of lily

Nglish: Translation of lily for Spanish Speakers

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

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