levity

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Coined in 1564, from Latin levitās (lightness, frivolity), from levis (lightness (in weight)).[1] Cognate to lever, and more distantly, light.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈlɛ.vɪ.ti/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

levity (usually uncountable, plural levities)

  1. Lightness of manner or speech, frivolity; lack of appropriate seriousness; inclination to make a joke of serious matters.
  2. (obsolete) Lack of steadiness.
  3. The state or quality of being light, buoyancy.
    • (Can we date this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Most of the confidences were unsought - frequently I had feigned sleep, preoccupation or a hostile levity []
    • (Can we date this quote by Robert Montgomery Bird and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      [] it would really seem as if there was something nomadic in our natures, a principle of levity and restlessness []
    • 1869, Mary Somerville, On Molecular and Microscopic Science 1.1.12:
      Hydrogen [] rises in the air on account of its levity.
  4. (countable) A lighthearted or frivolous act.
    • 1665, Daniel Defoe, History of the Plague in London[1]:
      For though it be something wonderful to tell that any should have hearts so hardened, in the midst of such a calamity, as to rob and steal, yet certain it is that all sorts of villainies, and even levities and debaucheries, were then practiced in the town as openly as ever: I will not say quite as frequently, because the number of people were many ways lessened.
    • 1872, J. Fenimore Cooper, The Bravo[2]:
      [] or do the people joy less than common in their levities?"
    • 1882, H.D. Traill, Sterne[3]:
      His incorrigible levities had probably lost him the countenance of most of his more serious acquaintances [] .

Antonyms[edit]

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Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ levity” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.