live·​ly | \ ˈlīv-lē How to pronounce lively (audio) \
livelier; liveliest

Definition of lively

1 : briskly alert and energetic : vigorous, animated a lively discussion lively children racing for home
2 : active, intense takes a lively interest in politics
3 : full of life, movement, or incident lively streets at carnival time
4 : brilliant, fresh a lively wit
5 : imparting spirit or vivacity : stimulating many a peer of England brews livelier liquor than the Muse— A. E. Housman
6 : quick to rebound : resilient a lively ball
7 : responding readily to the helm a lively boat
8 obsolete : living

Other Words from lively

livelily \ ˈlīv-​lə-​lē How to pronounce lively (audio) \ adverb
liveliness \ ˈlīv-​lē-​nəs How to pronounce lively (audio) \ 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Councilor Aaron Smith, who’s district includes courthouse square, said residents support making downtown more lively. John Tuohy, The Indianapolis Star, 16 Sep. 2021 The Sonos Roam offers great sound quality and versatility for the price, pumping out rich and lively audio for all types of music while serving up a ton of features for both listening at home and on the go. Michael Andronico, CNN Underscored, 6 Apr. 2021 Central Tokyo remains crowded during the day and some neighborhoods are still lively at night, despite a government request for restaurants to close early and bars to refrain from serving alcohol. Washington Post, 23 June 2021 The conversation is always lively when Bubba Watson has something to say. Don Yaeger, Forbes, 17 June 2021 The respective forums are lively, filled with trophy hunters. Simon Hill, Wired, 10 June 2021 The crowd was lively, mostly in support of the home team Admirals, who were hopeful for a repeat performance. Glenn Graham,, 7 June 2021 The young cast has wonderful chemistry, the music is lively and the writing feels utterly unique. Kelly Lawler, USA Today, 28 May 2021 Funchal city at night is lively and lovely—a sort of smaller and flatter version of Lisbon. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 24 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lively.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of lively

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

History and Etymology for lively

Middle English, from Old English līflīc, from līf life

Learn More About lively

Time Traveler for lively

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near lively



lively imagination

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for lively

Last Updated

20 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lively.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for lively



English Language Learners Definition of lively

: very active and energetic
: full of energy, excitement, or feeling
: full of movement or activity


live·​ly | \ ˈlīv-lē How to pronounce lively (audio) \
livelier; liveliest

Kids Definition of lively

1 : full of life : active a lively puppy
2 : showing or resulting from active thought a lively imagination
3 : full of spirit or feeling : animated lively music

Other Words from lively

liveliness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lively

Nglish: Translation of lively for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lively for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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