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[lahyth] /laɪð/
adjective, lither, lithest.
bending readily; pliant; limber; supple; flexible:
the lithe body of a ballerina.
Also, lithesome [lahyth -suh m] /ˈlaɪð səm/ (Show IPA).
Origin of lithe
before 900; Middle English lith(e), Old English līthe; cognate with Old Saxon līthi, German lind “mild,” Latin lentus “slow”
Related forms
lithely, adverb
litheness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lithe
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He got to his feet with lithe swiftness of movement, and sprang close to the desk.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • She was a lithe, strong woman, taller than he, or else she would have fallen.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • She struck him, kicked and twisted with all her splendid, lithe strength, but it was in vain.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • She was in riding costume and was bending a lithe whip in her gloved hands.

  • There was a lithe alertness in the woman that puzzled Lenyard.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for lithe


flexible or supple
Derived Forms
lithely, adverb
litheness, noun
Word Origin
Old English (in the sense: gentle; C15: supple); related to Old High German lindi soft, Latin lentus slow
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 lithe

Old English liðe "soft, mild, gentle, meek," from Proto-Germanic *linthja- (cf. Old Saxon lithi "soft, mild, gentle," Old High German lindi, German lind, Old Norse linr, with characteristic loss of "n" before "th" in English), from PIE root *lent- "flexible" (cf. Latin lentus "flexible, pliant, slow," Sanskrit lithi). In Middle English, used of the weather. Current sense of "easily flexible" is from c.1300. Related: Litheness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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