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 The scherzo combined rippling clarity with sprightly charm. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, "Review: Horszowski Trio delivers a compelling account of Rebecca Clarke’s Piano Trio," 26 Jan. 2021 What would follow was a long segment featuring re-enactments of sprightly moments from each splendid year. Bob Greene, WSJ, "Could Garry Moore Have Made 2020 Wonderful?," 30 Dec. 2020 We have been conditioned to believe that with a clock’s tick on one particular midnight, a bent old man hands the baton of time to a sprightly cherub in a top hat. New York Times, "This New Year’s Eve, Times Square Will Be Filled With Hope. But Not People.," 30 Dec. 2020 But younger readers, those folks most recently introduced to the miracle of words, will simply enjoy this story for its sprightly adventure and effervescent comedy. Washington Post, "Michel Faber’s ‘D’ is a quirky adventure for readers young and old," 14 Dec. 2020 Of course, Twitter, rife with optimism, takes as its mascot a sprightly songbird, labeling each of its fast-moving posts a tweet, as if its collective exchanges came together to form mellifluous birdsong. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Parler’s vibe is MAGA-red and unreal. Extremism by design?," 25 Nov. 2020 Formally commanding, the multicolored suite captures in sprightly imagery and describes in demotic words a host of Black citizens—real lives, really led—in windows of tenements along a city street that’s past due for intersecting with Fifth Avenue. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Metropolitan Museum at a Hundred and Fifty," 23 Nov. 2020 Holmes hit the pavement in one of the hottest shoes of the year: Bottega Veneta’s quilted, square-toe mules in a sprightly shade of yellow. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Katie Holmes Steps Out in One of the Hottest Shoes of the Year," 9 Nov. 2020 And the zoo has a sprightly 5-year-old boy to thank for his safe recovery. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "An endangered lemur that went missing from a California zoo turned up at a church playground," 16 Oct. 2020

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

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sprightly

obsolete spright (sprite), alteration of sprite

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Time Traveler for sprightly

Time Traveler

The first known use of sprightly was in 1592

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Last Updated

1 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sprightly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sprightly. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on sprightly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sprightly

Nglish: Translation of sprightly for Spanish Speakers

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