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

Example Sentences

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 SportsDay Cowboys from The Dallas Morning News is a lively conversation about all things Dallas Cowboys. Dallas News, 9 Feb. 2023 Chinatown came alive Sunday afternoon with explosive color, laughter and music as Chicago celebrated the Lunar New Year with a lively parade. Adriana Pérez, Chicago Tribune, 29 Jan. 2023 But some huddled together on the grass at Kellogg Park for warm beverages, hot chili and lively conversation by the beach. San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Jan. 2023 The lively street parade, complete with floats is held 2-4 p.m., and an old-time baseball game is played 4 p.m. at the high school. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 19 May 2022 This lively group biography offers an intimate glimpse of the Bright Young Things, the artistic coterie that emerged in the nineteen-twenties as successors to the prewar Bloomsburyites. Matthew Hutson, The New Yorker, 20 Feb. 2023 But with him in the lineup, the balance tips towards something more lively, capable of hassling Real’s playmakers on a good day. Henry Flynn, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2023 As the third month of the year, Mother Nature begins to show off her colors in lively blooms. Chaise Sanders, Country Living, 18 Feb. 2023 ChatGPT has spurred lively conversations about the role of educational technology. Seb Starcevic, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 Feb. 2023 See More

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.

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 22 Mar. 2023.

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

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