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

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Other Words from lively

livelily \ ˈlīv-​lə-​lē How to pronounce livelily (audio) \ adverb
liveliness \ ˈlīv-​lē-​nəs How to pronounce liveliness (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Better yet, anyone who remembers the Winter Walk on Stockton Street probably recalls the enticing novelty of two blocks turned into a lively destination. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, "How to make sure winter is welcoming in the time of COVID," 15 Nov. 2020 The long pandemic dry spell surely accentuated but couldn’t wholly account for the delight one took in his lively, spirited performance. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra shines in Haydn, Bartok on third ‘In Focus’ series episode: Review," 13 Nov. 2020 Although the crusts are fairly standard, the lively, nontraditional toppings stand out. Rick Nelson, Star Tribune, "Pizza takeover! 12 new (or newish) pies and slices to try in the Twin Cities," 13 Nov. 2020 But mezcal proves its value as a mixer in lively cocktails like the San Miguel de Allende with deep red hibiscus ($11) and the after-dinner Puerto Escondido with Grand Marnier, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and chocolate bitters ($14). Mike Sutter,, "Three new San Antonio restaurants — Camp Outpost Co., Cuishe Cocina Mexicana and Kumo bringing special food, like insects, to S.A.," 12 Nov. 2020 The show, now down to seven power-contestants, showed some flab as judges and host Tyra Banks verbally tap danced to fill two hours, even snuffing the fun out of lively dance-offs. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'DWTS' shock! Backstreet Boy AJ McLean can't find anybody to love his Queen tribute waltz, gets voted off," 10 Nov. 2020 Eyman writes in lively prose that benefits from his command of classic Hollywood. Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor, "Cary Grant’s charm was legendary, but his best character was actually himself," 10 Nov. 2020 The venue’s performers often drove in from Boston and spent the night, and one of the club’s owners turned to Mr. Crosby, inquiring how long a lively young dancer might be in town. Washington Post, "Norm Crosby, comedian who mangled words with great extinction, dies at 93," 9 Nov. 2020 Adamantas has a lively waterfront scene with quaint shops and wonderful tavernas. Petros G. Zissimos, Travel + Leisure, "A Perfect 14-day Itinerary to the Greek Islands From a T+L Travel Expert," 6 Nov. 2020

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 8

History and Etymology for lively

Middle English, from Old English līflīc, from līf life

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Time Traveler for lively

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for lively

Last Updated

19 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lively.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for lively


How to pronounce lively (audio)

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

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