lis·​some ˈli-səm How to pronounce lissome (audio)
variants or less commonly lissom
: easily flexed
: nimble
lissomely adverb
lissomeness noun

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Lissome (sometimes spelled lissom) is a gently altered form of its synonym, lithesome. While lissome tends to be the more popular choice these days, the two words have similar pasts. They both appeared in the 18th century, and they both trace back to the much older lithe, which first appeared in English during the 14th century and comes from an Old English word meaning "gentle." Lissome can also be an adverb meaning "in a supple or nimble manner," but this use is rare.

Examples of lissome in a Sentence

the lissome actress's dance training is apparent in the way she moves on stage rattan is such a lissome material that it can be used for all manner of furniture and baskets
Recent Examples on the Web The lissome little murder mystery retails for $15 and totals 100 pages. Hannah Natanson, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Dec. 2022 Jack collected lissome locks of women’s pubic hair. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 The 5000 has one of the most lissome combinations of ride and handling of any car on the road; the 4000, however, is less smooth and less graceful. Steve Smith, Car and Driver, 14 Aug. 2020 Coming on the heels of a few years of public disintegration, he’d been humbled, or wished to appear that way: a handed-the-world boy forced to disavow the person fame had turned him into, singing lissome songs of apology. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, 14 Feb. 2020 One of my more luminous memories of that odd year, 1974, was a dance performed in Central Park in New York by three long and lissome non-pregnant maidens in white gauze gym suits. Charles McCabe, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lissome.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


alteration of lithesome

First Known Use

1763, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lissome was in 1763


Dictionary Entries Near lissome

Cite this Entry

“Lissome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants also lissom
: bending easily : flexible, lithe
: quick and light in action : nimble

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