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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 lithely
Historical Examples
  • He moved with alert assurance, lithely balanced on the balls of his feet, noiselessly.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • lithely she got to her feet and reached a dial upon the screen.

    Hunters Out of Space Joseph Everidge Kelleam
  • She moved to the doctor's side, lithely and with an easy grace.

    The Butterfly Kiss Arthur Dekker Savage
  • They were life-sized, depicting tall, lithely powerful men, with cruel hawk-like faces.

    Shadows in the Moonlight Robert E. Howard
  • 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
  • He turned a group of short, lithely built men armed with spears.

    The Argus Pheasant John Charles Beecham
  • 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
  • Laura, arms folded, rose and lithely crossed the room several times, knitting her brow.

    The Eddy Clarence L. Cullen
  • lithely, easily, with the joy and love of battle in his reddened eyes, Hal ducked.


    George Allan England
  • Elsa Chetwood was twenty-five, lithely built, outwardly reposeful, but dynamic within.

    Parrot & Co.

    Harold MacGrath
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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