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From low +‎ -ly; compare Middle English lowly.



lowly (comparative lowlier, superlative lowliest)

  1. Not high; not elevated in place; low.
    • 1918, C. J. Dennis, The Chase of Ages[1]:
      And I watched you waltz from tree to tree
      As I slunk in my lowly lair
    • 1697, John Dryden, translating Virgil, Aeneid[2]:
      And those whom Tiber's holy forests hide,
      Or Circe's hills from the main land divide;
      Where Ufens glides along the lowly lands,
      Or the black water of Pomptina stands.
  2. Low in rank or social importance.
  3. Not lofty or sublime; humble.
    • 2010, David Dondero, Just a Baby in Your Momma's Eyes
      Where our apt used to be they built a fancy condominium high-rise.
      Which at a lowly income none of us could ever really quite afford.
    • 1697, John Dryden, Pastoral VI[4]:
      For all who read, and reading, not disdain / These rural poems, and their lowly strain
  4. Having a low esteem of one's own worth; humble; meek; free from pride.
    • 1769, Bible (King James Version), Matthew xi. 29
      Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.

Derived terms[edit]



lowly (comparative more lowly, superlative most lowly)

  1. In a low manner; humbly; meekly; modestly.
  2. In a low condition; meanly.
  3. At low pitch or volume.
    He muttered lowly.



Middle English[edit]



  1. in a low manner; humbly; meekly; modestly
    • a. 1472, Thomas Malory, “Capitulum x”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book XXI, [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, OCLC 71490786; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, OCLC 890162034:
      And there was none of these other knyghtes but they redde in bookes and holpe for to synge Masse, and range bellys, and dyd lowly al maner of servyce.