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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for lithely
Historical Examples
  • She moved to the doctor's side, lithely and with an easy grace.

    The Butterfly Kiss Arthur Dekker Savage
  • lithely she got to her feet and reached a dial upon the screen.

    Hunters Out of Space Joseph Everidge Kelleam
  • Had one single proportion been exaggerated or deficient, she could never have carried off her height so lithely and gracefully.

    Sword and Gown George A. Lawrence
  • They were life-sized, depicting tall, lithely powerful men, with cruel hawk-like faces.

    Shadows in the Moonlight Robert E. Howard
  • Gone are the chaste curves of the slim white silk legs that used to kick so lithely from the swirl of lace and chiffon.

    Cheerful--By Request Edna Ferber
  • He turned a group of short, lithely built men armed with spears.

    The Argus Pheasant John Charles Beecham
  • The helmsman got up, took a rope, lithely climbed the little platform, and in spite of warning cries dived into the weir.

    An Eagle Flight Jos Rizal
  • Not tall in stature but well and lithely built for a golfer, he has a full, easy, and graceful swing.

    The Happy Golfer Henry Leach
  • She tripped up the steps as lightly as a leaf blown by the wind, her trim figure swaying as lithely as a willow-shoot.

    Love in a Cloud Arlo Bates
  • Laura, arms folded, rose and lithely crossed the room several times, knitting her brow.

    The Eddy Clarence L. Cullen
British Dictionary definitions for lithely


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 lithely



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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