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[lahyt-lee] /ˈlaɪt li/
with little weight, force, intensity, etc.; gently:
to press lightly on a door bell.
to only a small amount or degree; slightly:
lightly fried eggs.
nimbly; quickly:
to leap lightly aside.
with a lack of concern; indifferently; slightly:
to think lightly of one's achievements.
cheerfully; without complaining:
to take bad news lightly.
without due consideration or reason (often used negatively):
an offer not to be refused lightly.
easily; without trouble or effort:
Lightly come, lightly go.
frivolously; flippantly:
to behave lightly.
airily; buoyantly:
flags floating lightly.
Origin of lightly
before 900; Middle English lightli, Old English lēohtlīce. See light2, -ly Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lightly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The moral customs of their countries were possibly held by them lightly.

  • But daddy's attentions were for few, and not to be lightly received.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • She had kissed him lightly on the cheek before he knew what she intended to do.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Yates caught up a handful of sand, and flung it lightly against the pane.

  • "Been rolling that to the top of the mountain," he said lightly.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
Word Origin and History for lightly

Old English leohtlice "so as not to be heavy" (of material things, but also of sleep, blows, etc.); cognate with Old Frisian lichtelik, Old High German lihtlihho, German leichtlich, Old Norse lettlega (see light (adj.1)). Meaning "frivolously, indifferently" is from early 13c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with lightly
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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