spright·​ly | \ ˈsprīt-lē \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Never one to follow the rules, the free-spirited Lobell shot shimmer and sparkle through her flirty lip, eye, and face products and branded them with sprightly, stylish cartoon women. Kathleen Hackett, ELLE Decor, "All in the Family," 4 Oct. 2010 The ceviche is sprightly and well-balanced, the smoked salmon with mango is delightfully '90s and retro cool. Krista Simmons, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Sushi Restaurants in Los Angeles," 27 Feb. 2018 This might seem strange given that NASA itself is a sprightly fifty-eight. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: NASA's Crazy, Kooky, Legendary Research Facility," 3 Nov. 2016 The Atlanta summer games in 1996 had Izzy, a sprightly blue blob who seemed to have escaped from an antacid commercial. Jason Gay, WSJ, "The Fuzzy Terror of Sports Mascots," 27 Sep. 2018 Mixed-race children are not always born with lighter skin, hazel eyes, or loose, sprightly curls. Yaminah Mayo, Glamour, "Khloé Kardashian Shouldn't Have to 'Block Out' Racist Remarks About True," 20 Sep. 2018 To keep her ringlets shiny and sprightly, Lou slicks a deep conditioning macadamia treatment into her hair once a week, leaving it in for a day or overnight before washing it with Australian natural brand Sukin's Protein Shampoo. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "This Drake-Approved Singer Is Bringing Back Cool, Crimped Waves," 8 Aug. 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.

See More

First Known Use of sprightly

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sprightly

obsolete spright (sprite), alteration of sprite

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sprightly

Listen to Our Podcast about sprightly

Dictionary Entries near sprightly








Statistics for sprightly

Last Updated

28 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sprightly

The first known use of sprightly was in 1596

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sprightly



English Language Learners Definition of sprightly

: full of life and energy


spright·​ly | \ ˈsprīt-lē \
sprightlier; sprightliest

Kids Definition of sprightly

: full of spirit : lively

Keep scrolling for more

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 deny responsibility for

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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