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Coined in 1564, from Latin levitās (“lightness, frivolity”), from levis (“lightness (in weight)”). Cognate to lever, and more distantly, light.
levity (usually uncountable, plural levities)
- Lightness of manner or speech, frivolity; lack of appropriate seriousness; inclination to make a joke of serious matters.
- (obsolete) Lack of steadiness.
- The state or quality of being light, buoyancy.
- 1925, F[rancis] Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, published 1953, →ISBN, →OCLC:
- Most of the confidences were unsought - frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation or a hostile levity […]
- 1838, Robert Montgomery Bird, Peter Pilgrim:
- […] 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.
- (countable) A lighthearted or frivolous act.
- 1665, Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year, Gutenberg:
- 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:
- […] or do the people joy less than common in their levities?"
- 1882, H.D. Traill, Sterne:
- His incorrigible levities had probably lost him the countenance of most of his more serious acquaintances […] .
lightness of manner or speech
lack of steadiness — see instability
state or quality of being light
lighthearted or frivolous act
- ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “levity”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.