verb (used with object)

to make vigorous or active; invigorate: The wit of Mencken enlivened his age.
to make sprightly or cheerful; brighten: Flowers enliven any room.

Origin of enliven

1625–35; obsolete enlive to give life to (en-1 + life) + -en1
Related formsen·liv·en·er, nounen·liv·en·ing·ly, adverben·liv·en·ment, nounun·en·liv·ened, adjectiveun·en·liv·en·ing, adjective

Synonyms for enliven

Synonym study

2. See cheer.

Antonyms for enliven

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for enliven

Contemporary Examples of enliven

Historical Examples of enliven

  • Aunt Rosine had put a spray of lilac in her bonnet, "to enliven her mourning," as she said.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Every evening, as previously, Pierre strove to enliven him with an account of his strolls.

  • It is in your power to make their bed of down, and to enliven the ground they have yet to traverse with flowers.


    William Godwin

  • She wanted to enliven the Abbe and to draw him out of his melancholy moodiness.

  • But Curly had no desire to enliven things, and went on quite seriously.

    The Golden Woman

    Ridgwell Cullum

British Dictionary definitions for enliven


verb (tr)

to make active, vivacious, or spirited; invigorate
to make cheerful or bright; gladden or brighten
Derived Formsenlivener, nounenlivening, adjectiveenlivenment, noun
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

Word Origin and History for enliven

1630s, "give life to" (enlive in same sense is from 1590s); see en- (1) "make, put in" + life + -en (1). Meaning "make lively or cheerful" is from 1690s. Related: Enlivened; enlivening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper