spright·​ly ˈsprīt-lē How to pronounce sprightly (audio)
sprightlier; sprightliest
: marked by a gay lightness and vivacity : spirited
a sprightly musical
: having a distinctively piquant taste : zesty
a sprightly salsa
sprightliness noun
sprightly adverb

Did you know?

Sprightly comes from spright, an archaic version of the word we now use for an elf or fairy: sprite. Ariel from William 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 the origin of that word is not known.

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

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 As Cattrall took in Rousteing’s new assortment of sharp suits and structured dresses, she was drawn to the sprightly collection’s prints and hues. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 28 Sep. 2023 The sprightly boy had only just moved here in March. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, 21 Aug. 2023 Even the sprightliest pup needs preventive health screens just like a human does: After all, our states of well-being are connected. Trisha Pasricha Md, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Aug. 2023 They can be spotted in the Royal Box from the early rounds, cheering on their favorites in sprightly summer outfits. Naomi Pike, Vogue, 16 June 2023 None of this matters, as the sprightly Miata causes a sensation at dealerships across the country. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, 18 May 2023 The sprightly number, based on a Portuguese dance variation by Baroque composer Francesco Geminiani, popped with expressive vivaciousness, exuberant leaps and splashes of modern movement vocabulary, like the odd torso undulation and handstand walkover. Sheila Regan Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 12 July 2021 Chassis components from the Civic compact car lend the HR-V sprightly road manners but its 2.0-liter four-cylinder is weak sauce, and it's made even more joyless given that it's mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 2 June 2023 Inspired by Maniscalco’s relationship with his Sicilian immigrant father, Salvo, the movie finds its main character, a Chicago hotel manager also named Sebastian Maniscalco (really?), ready to pop the question to his sprightly and beautiful artist girlfriend, Ellie Collins (Leslie Bibb). Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sprightly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


obsolete spright (sprite), alteration of sprite

First Known Use

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sprightly was in 1592


Dictionary Entries Near sprightly

Cite this Entry

“Sprightly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sprightly. Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


spright·​ly ˈsprīt-lē How to pronounce sprightly (audio)
sprightlier; sprightliest
: full of spirit : lively
sprightliness noun
sprightly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on sprightly

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