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plural lilies
: any of a genus (Lilium of the family Liliaceae, the lily family) of erect perennial leafy-stemmed bulbous herbs that are native to the temperate northern hemisphere and are widely cultivated for their showy flowers
broadly : any of various plants of the lily family or of the related amaryllis or iris families
: any of various plants with showy flowers: such as
: a scarlet anemone (Anemone coronaria) of the Mediterranean region
lily-like adjective
or lilylike


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: resembling a lily in fairness, purity, or fragility
my lady's lily handJohn Keats

Examples of lily in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Shrubs such as spirea, hydrangea and euonymus do well in most U.S. zones, as do perennials such as day lilies, phlox and false indigo. Karen Hugg, Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2024 Perennials: Peruvian lilies (Alstroemeria), native monkey flower (Mimulus and Diplacus), many kinds of sages (Salvia), roses, African blue basil, Jerusalem sage (Phlomis frutescens), Mexican tulip poppy (Hunnemannia fumariifolia), South African daisy (Arctotis). Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Apr. 2024 Along a side gate, well-wishers had left a few bouquets—daisies, lilies—and get-well-soon cards for Catherine. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2024 Expect lots of wild poppies, Butterfly Mariposa lilies and zigzag larkspur. John Metcalfe, The Mercury News, 20 Mar. 2024 Overlapping state and national parks replete with coastal redwood and sequoia offer more than 38,000 acres of old growth that act as a haven for myriad wildflowers, including trillium, Douglas iris, leopard, Mariposa, and alpine lilies, snowflowers, and spotted coralroot. Krista Simmons and J.d. Simkins, Sunset Magazine, 8 Mar. 2024 Facebook Show more sharing options Wildflower season is underway in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with flowers such as desert sand verbena, desert lilies and desert dandelions bringing a colorful glow to San Diego County’s backcountry this week. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Mar. 2024 Still, indoor plants do help somewhat, and sites like HGTV, Good Housekeeping and Air Health have many suggestions on the best for air quality, including: Spider plant Aloe vera English ivy Bamboo palm Snake plant Peace lily Keep in mind some of these plants can be toxic to pets. Chad Murphy, The Enquirer, 13 Mar. 2024 Organically rich Soil pH: 6.0-7.0 Not actually a lily, cannas have banana-leaf-like foliage and tropical looking blooms. Marissa Wu, Southern Living, 12 Mar. 2024
Favorite foods include crinum lily, amaryllis and day lily plants, but they may be found on other ornamentals and edibles. Tom MacCubbin, Orlando Sentinel, 29 Apr. 2023 The standard version of miso soup might involve little more than soft tofu, rehydrated seaweed and a lily-pad suspension of scallions, but at home, Ando said, there are no rules. Eric Kim, New York Times, 14 Sep. 2022 For example, parrot tulips have fringed or scalloped petals and bright colors (like an exotic bird), while lily tulips are shaped more like, well, lilies than classic tulip blooms. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 19 Jan. 2023 According to the myth, from those drops of milk sprang the first ever lily flowers. Emma Dibdin, Town & Country, 18 May 2022 When the camera pans above the rocks and lily pads, a neon Budweiser sign appears and glows over the slimy spokesfrogs. Zoey Lyttle, Peoplemag, 3 Feb. 2023 Asawa’s Andrea Fountain with mermaids nursing babies among lily pads. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 19 Jan. 2023 Western barking frogs leap on lily pads and feline predators like mountain lions roam along the stretches of the river that expand into marshlands, grasslands and mesquite bosque. Jake Frederico, The Arizona Republic, 1 Jan. 2023 The sense of serenity is also perpetuated by waterfalls created throughout the property, lending the sound of gently rippling water, and ponds with either lily pads or swimming koi. Laurie Werner, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lily.' 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 lilie, from Old English, from Latin lilium

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lily was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near lily

Cite this Entry

“Lily.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural lilies
: any of a genus of herbs with leafy stems that grow from bulbs and have funnel-shaped flowers
also : any of various related plants

More from Merriam-Webster on lily

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