live·​ly ˈlīv-lē How to pronounce lively (audio)
livelier; liveliest
: briskly alert and energetic : vigorous, animated
a lively discussion
lively children racing for home
: active, intense
takes a lively interest in politics
: full of life, movement, or incident
lively streets at carnival time
: brilliant, fresh
a lively wit
: imparting spirit or vivacity : stimulating
many a peer of England brews livelier liquor than the MuseA. E. Housman
: quick to rebound : resilient
a lively ball
: responding readily to the helm
a lively boat
obsolete : living
livelily adverb
liveliness noun
lively adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for lively

lively, animated, vivacious, sprightly, gay mean keenly alive and spirited.

lively suggests briskness, alertness, or energy.

a lively debate on the issues

animated applies to what is spirited and active.

an animated discussion of current events

vivacious suggests an activeness of gesture and wit, often playful or alluring.

a vivacious party host

sprightly suggests lightness and spirited vigor of manner or wit.

a tuneful, sprightly musical

gay stresses complete freedom from care and overflowing spirits.

the gay spirit of Paris in the 1920s

Examples of lively in a Sentence

a very lively writing style The book is lively and well written. They had a lively debate. A lively atmosphere keeps people coming back to the café.
Recent Examples on the Web Embarking on a yacht charter along Croatia's Dalmatian Coast offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse oneself in a captivating mix of ancient history, lively culture, and breathtaking natural scenery. Hilary Tetenbaum, USA TODAY, 8 May 2024 The Doral City Council is expected to have a lively debate. Devoun Cetoute, Miami Herald, 6 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for lively 

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

Word History


Middle English, from Old English līflīc, from līf life

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 8

Time Traveler
The first known use of lively was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near lively

Cite this Entry

“Lively.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


live·​ly ˈlīv-lē How to pronounce lively (audio)
livelier; liveliest
: full of life : active
a lively puppy
: keen entry 1 sense 3
a lively interest
: full of spirit or feeling
a lively debate
: showing activity or spirit
a lively manner
liveliness noun
lively adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on lively

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!