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See also: Lively



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English lyvely, lifly, from Old English līflīċ (living, lively, long-lived, necessary to life, vital), equivalent to life +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots lively, lifely (of or pertaining to life, vital, living, life-like). Doublet of lifely.

Alternative forms[edit]


lively (comparative livelier, superlative liveliest)

  1. Full of life; energetic.
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes
      But wherefore comes old Manoa in such haste, / With youthful steps? Much livelier than erewhile / He seems.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      […] St. Bede's at this period of its history was perhaps the poorest and most miserable parish in the East End of London. Close-packed, crushed by the buttressed height of the railway viaduct, rendered airless by huge walls of factories, it at once banished lively interest from a stranger's mind and left only a dull oppression of the spirit.
    • 2011 September 29, Jon Smith, “Tottenham 3-1 Shamrock Rovers”, in BBC Sport:
      But with the lively Dos Santos pulling the strings behind strikers Pavlyuchenko and Defoe, Spurs controlled the first half without finding the breakthrough their dominance deserved.
  2. Bright; vivid; glowing; strong; vigorous.
    • 1704, Isaac Newton, Opticks: Or, A Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours of Light
      The colours of the prism are manifestly more full, intense, and lively that those of natural bodies.
    • 1688, Robert South, Sacramental Preparation: Set forth in a Sermon on Matthew 5, 12.
      His faith must be not only living, but lively too.
  3. (archaic) Endowed with or manifesting life; living.
    • c. 1600, Philemon Holland
      chaplets of gold and silver resembling lively flowers and leaves
  4. (archaic) Representing life; lifelike.
  5. (archaic) Airy; animated; spirited.
  6. (of beer) Fizzy; foamy; tending to produce a large head in the glass.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Nouns to which "lively" is often applied: person, character, lady, woman, man, audience, personality, art, guide, activity, game, lesson, introduction, discussion, debate, writing, image, town, city, village, etc.
Derived terms[edit]


lively (plural livelies)

  1. (nautical) Term of address.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English lyvely, lifly, from Old English līflīċe, equivalent to life +‎ -ly.


lively (comparative more lively, superlative most lively)

  1. Vigorously.
  2. Vibrantly, vividly.
  3. (obsolete) In a lifelike manner.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938, book III, canto I:
      Him to a dainty flowre she did transmew, / Which in that cloth was wrought, as if it liuely grew.
    • 1603, John Florio, transl.; Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, printed at London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821:
      , Folio Society, 2006, vol.1, p.220-1:
      the Painter Protogenes [] having perfected the image of a wearie and panting dog, [] but being unable, as he desired, lively to represent the drivel or slaver of his mouth, vexed against his owne worke, took his spunge, and moist as it was with divers colours, threw it at the picture [].