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[lilt] /lɪlt/
rhythmic swing or cadence.
a lilting song or tune.
verb (used with or without object)
to sing or play in a light, tripping, or rhythmic manner.
Origin of lilt
1300-50; Middle English lulte; perhaps akin to Dutch lul pipe, lullen to lull
Related forms
liltingly, adverb
liltingness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lilted
Historical Examples
  • She put a damper on the sudden enthusiasm that lilted into his voice.

    The Fighting Edge William MacLeod Raine
  • He lilted a swaying air, and whirled her round the room with gipsy glee.

    The Nest Builder Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale
  • He sat up with alert ears, and lilted suspiciously to a distance.

    Lives of the Fur Folk M. D. Haviland
  • Madelon saw him as she lilted, and it seemed to her that she heard what he said.

    Madelon Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • She thought that Burr was there, and she lilted more loudly the Virginia reel.

    Madelon Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • He was very fond of the singing, and lilted away in his own peculiar fashion.

    The History of Burke and Hare George Mac Gregor
  • Eine Kleine Nachtmusik lilted joyously about him as he found a chair and sat down.

    Security Poul William Anderson
  • The quotation, lilted inanely as a nursery rime, pierced her heart like a flight of silver arrows.

    Walking Shadows Alfred Noyes
  • "I ain't 'alf so funny as that young billy-goat o' yours, my dear," replied the old trainer, and lilted on his way.

    Boy Woodburn Alfred Ollivant
  • Eerily it tripped and chimed and lilted to its close, and the Maestro swung about and faced them, smiling still, quizzically.

    The Happy Venture Edith Ballinger Price
British Dictionary definitions for lilted


(in music) a jaunty rhythm
a buoyant motion
verb (intransitive)
(of a melody) to have a lilt
to move in a buoyant manner
Derived Forms
lilting, adjective
Word Origin
C14 lulten, origin obscure
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lilted



1510s, "to lift up" (the voice), probably from late 14c. West Midlands dialect lulten "to sound an alarm," of unknown origin. Possible relatives include Norwegian lilla "to sing" and Low German lul "pipe." It is possible that the whole loose group is imitative. Sense of "sing in a light manner" is first recorded 1786. Related: Lilted; lilting. As a noun, 1728, "lilting song," from the verb. As "rhythmical cadence," 1840.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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