spright·​ly | \ ˈsprīt-lē How to pronounce sprightly (audio) \
sprightlier; sprightliest

Definition of sprightly

1 : marked by a gay lightness and vivacity : spirited a sprightly musical
2 : having a distinctively piquant taste : zesty a sprightly salsa

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Other Words from sprightly

sprightliness noun
sprightly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for sprightly

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

Did You Know?

Sprightly comes from spright, an archaic version of the word we now use for an elf or fairy: sprite. Ariel from Shakespeare's The Tempest and the leprechaun of Irish mythology are often referred to as sprites, and it's no coincidence that both are characterized by their light, flitting movements and mannerisms. Sprite derives via Middle English and Old French from the Latin spiritus, which of course gives us spirit as well. A similar-looking adjective that can describe someone who is nimble and energetic is spry, but that word is believed to be of Scandinavian origin.

Examples of sprightly in a Sentence

a sprightly child who often claims to be too tired to move when it's time to do chores

Recent Examples on the Web

This collection of 80 masks depicts Guatemalan historical and cultural figures, as well as sprightly animals and popular deities — all connected with a range of folkloric festivals and events that are also chronicled in the show. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: Umar Rashid turns colonial histories upside down in paintings at VPAM," 13 June 2019 The cause was Harry’s new relationship with his sprightly 62-year-old French girlfriend Patricia Landeau. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "Billion Dollar Divorces: What Happens When the Super Wealthy Risk Everything for Love on the Down-Low," 10 Apr. 2019 At Sundance, Lupita Nyong’o hit the streets in a sprightly Versace puffer coat, proving dressing for warmth can still be a moment in itself . . . Christian Allaire, Vogue, "10 Best Dressed: Week of February 4, 2019," 4 Feb. 2019 For the occasion, Her Majesty kept to her style signature, choosing an all-over sprightly hue that was both colorful and joyous. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Queen Elizabeth II Gives the Pantone Color of the Year a Royal Spin," 3 Feb. 2019 For example, the classic V-day treat of fresh briny oysters is a good match for a crisp Muscadet or a sprightly sauvignon blanc, while a hearty beef stew will be great with a hefty cabernet sauvignon or Syrah. 2. Catherine Lo, Good Housekeeping, "5 Quick Wine Pairing Tips for Valentine's Day," 10 Feb. 2011 But that could change after sprightly Burns won the hound group Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Ben Walker, The Seattle Times, "Dachshunds get chance to break out of Westminster doghouse," 12 Feb. 2019 According to the South China Morning Post, the vehicle is equipped with a 1,000-hp diesel engine, which will give it a sprightly 28-to-1 horsepower-to-weight ratio. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "What You Need to Know About China's New Tank," 2 Jan. 2019 And the evening’s presentation of trophies was mostly an enjoyable, even sprightly time. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Winners: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Netflix, and old people. Losers: Atlanta and The Handmaid’s Tale.," 18 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sprightly.' 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 sprightly

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sprightly

obsolete spright (sprite), alteration of sprite

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Statistics for sprightly

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for sprightly

The first known use of sprightly was in 1596

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More Definitions for sprightly



English Language Learners Definition of sprightly

: full of life and energy


spright·​ly | \ ˈsprīt-lē How to pronounce sprightly (audio) \
sprightlier; sprightliest

Kids Definition of sprightly

: full of spirit : lively

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More from Merriam-Webster on sprightly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sprightly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sprightly

Spanish Central: Translation of sprightly

Nglish: Translation of sprightly for Spanish Speakers

Comments on sprightly

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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