live·​ly | \ ˈlīv-lē \
livelier; liveliest

Definition of lively

1 obsolete : living
2 : briskly alert and energetic : vigorous, animated a lively discussion lively children racing for home
3 : active, intense takes a lively interest in politics
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 : full of life, movement, or incident lively streets at carnival time

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Other Words from lively

livelily \ ˈlīv-​lə-​lē \ adverb
liveliness \ ˈlīv-​lē-​nəs \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Fashion weeks, everywhere, are generally pretty lively after the runaround that happens during the day. Nick Remsen, Vogue, "Before Her Official London Fashion Week Debut, Alexa Chung Gets Candid About Her Past, Her Business, and Her Transatlantic Homecoming," 14 Sep. 2018 Breezing through Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center in support of that latest album, Smith delivered a live experience that was much livelier than his doleful rep might suggest. Drew Lazor,, "Sam Smith at the Wells Fargo Center: The Londoner rocks Philly on Independence Day," 5 July 2018 The theaters will likely be just as lively as the film., "'Solo: A Star Wars Story' bingo," 25 May 2018 The horses are lively and the landscape incomparable. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "An Insider’s Guide to Atins, a Hidden Paradise on the Northeast Coast of Brazil," 18 Jan. 2019 Both rely heavily upon Rush’s prodigious output of publications and his lively and wide-ranging personal correspondence. Stephen Brumwell, WSJ, "‘Rush’ and ‘Dr. Benjamin Rush’ Review: American Hippocrates," 20 Sep. 2018 Another shot of the Super Bloom 🌻🌼 The flowers made @deathvalleynps much more lively! Diana Bruk, Country Living, "A Rare "Superbloom" Is Blanketing Death Valley With Wildflowers," 17 Feb. 2016 Thanks, too, to Meredith Carey, Erin Florio, Lale Arikoglu, and Corina Quinn for joining this, er, lively debate. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Travelogue Podcast: Things You Should Never, Ever Do on a Road Trip," 3 Nov. 2018 His photographs provide lively images of Kane and Esquire graphics editor Robert Benton trying to manage the chaos from across the street. Marc Myers, WSJ, "A Great Day in Harlem, Revisited," 2 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of lively

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lively

Middle English, from Old English līflīc, from līf life

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Statistics for lively

Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for lively

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

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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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on lively

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lively

Spanish Central: Translation of lively

Nglish: Translation of lively for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lively for Arabic Speakers

Comments on lively

What made you want to look up lively? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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