1 of 2


: a spirited and usually cheerful song or tune
: a rhythmical swing, flow, or cadence
: a springy buoyant movement


2 of 2


lilted; lilting; lilts

transitive verb

: to sing or play in a lively cheerful manner

intransitive verb

: to sing or speak rhythmically and with fluctuating pitch
: to move in a lively springy manner

Example Sentences

Noun There was a charming lilt to her voice. a tune with a lilt
Recent Examples on the Web
The Boston Ballet Orchestra under Mischa Santora gives lilt and life to Ludwig Minkus’s lighthearted score; the running time of almost three hours goes like the wind. Jeffrey Gantz,, 17 Mar. 2023 The right length and lilt of a sentence will let your reader take your meaning from it, and take it with pleasure. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 12 Jan. 2011 The word has a natural lilt, a melody that builds to a pitch and gently subsides like a wavelet breaking on a Mediterranean shore. Paul Richardson, Condé Nast Traveler, 23 Jan. 2023 All Things Music Pass with a grinding slide guitar acting as a counterpoint to Newton-John’s lilt. Maura Johnston, Vulture, 10 Aug. 2022 Dyeing her hair and slipping into Andi’s clothes, Helen accepts Miles’ invitation on Andi’s behalf and shows up in Greece using her twin’s affluent lilt. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 23 Dec. 2022 And Poe, born in Boston but, thanks to his Virginia upbringing, speaking with a soft, Southern lilt, is far too courtly to fit in with his coarse classmates. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 23 Dec. 2022 This is pure reggae at its finest, but also innovative and modern, with two tracks featuring Wyclef Jean, who adds his own wonderful Caribbean lilt but doesn’t upstage the master. Spin Staff, SPIN, 22 Dec. 2022 The lime and passionfruit are an ode to the song’s upbeat, tropical lilt and beautifully complement its base of Mexican spirits. Karla Alindahao, Forbes, 18 Dec. 2022
Elegant and complex with a unique Cabernet Franc lilt that provide the mysterious Angel in the Bottle of Croix de Labrie. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 22 May 2022 And so many of his ideas are inspired, like adding the forlorn country lilt of an accordionist (Veli Kujala) to the scene in which Hamlet corrals a traveling troupe of actors to put on an evocation of his father’s murder. New York Times, 15 May 2022 With her band members backing her up, Ballerini shows her voice to be well-suited for the song, never exactly imitating the rock icon’s inflections but instead adding a bit of her own East Tennessee lilt to the mix. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, 2 July 2021 The strings lilt and wail until Zauner begins shredding, like the notes can’t come out of her fast enough. Justin Curto, Vulture, 4 June 2021 Jones speaks in a deep baritone, her Robeson County lilt adding bounce and verve to the words. Isabel Spiegel, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Oct. 2020 Friedman has matched that sensibility here with songs that slide from lilting, gaslight-era melodiousness into a jagged, more contemporary anxiety. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 9 Mar. 2020 The witty script glitters with the couple’s duelling voice-over accounts of the way things happened; the effervescent score, by André Previn, seems to set their voices to lilting music as if in a virtual operetta. The New Yorker, 2 Apr. 2020 Kitty’s voice is also much deeper and more powerful compared to Watson’s lilting, airy singing heard on the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. Ariana Brockington,, 5 Mar. 2020 See More

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

Word History



Middle English lulten to sound an alarm

First Known Use


circa 1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1722, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of lilt was circa 1680

Dictionary Entries Near lilt

Cite this Entry

“Lilt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to sing or play in a lively cheerful manner


2 of 2 noun
: a lively and cheerful sound or expression
a tune with a lilt
a lilt in her voice

More from Merriam-Webster on lilt

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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