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

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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

By the time Israeli forces killed 14-year-old Mohammad Ayyoub at a protest in Gaza this April, the sprightly but troubled youth had lived through three wars. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Gazans have survived years of war. Now depression is killing them.," 20 June 2018 Their sprightly chemistry remains one of the band’s strongest qualities. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Houston’s Wild Moccasins learn to love again on new album," 3 July 2018 Snip away most leaves, letting each radish retain a sprightly leaf or two or, alternatively, give it a short, spiky ’do. Leah Eskin, chicagotribune.com, "Herb-flecked butter makes rich contrast to bite of radishes," 3 Apr. 2018 The sprightly nonagenarian was replacing a rotting, 16-foot plank on his back deck, and cutting it up into pieces with a chainsaw before installing a new plank. Steve Annear, BostonGlobe.com, "A 95-year-old Maine resident beat a rabid fox to death with a wooden plank," 28 June 2018 The sprightly Sperling, who is also a professor of neurology at Harvard, has followed an unconventional career path. Joshua Kendall, BostonGlobe.com, "Can this doctor figure out how to stop Alzheimer’s before it starts?," 11 June 2018 Total Wine along Arden Way also carries a dry, steely and sprightly Bergerac sec, the 2016 Chateau Belingard ($11). Mike Dunne, sacbee, "A French wine mystery: Where's the Bergerac?," 6 June 2018 The bigger spoils flow from sprightlier businesses that know how to crunch data. The Economist, "One of China’s poorest provinces wants to be a tech hub," 31 May 2018 A week in the pretty much identical 2017 model showed the turbo is a sprightly thing, adding a modest 40 horsepower. Scott Sturgis, Philly.com, "Kia Soul enjoys a turbo boost for 2018," 4 Feb. 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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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 \
sprightlier; sprightliest

Kids Definition of sprightly

: full of spirit : lively

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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).


playful or foolish behavior

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