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 formslilt·ing·ly, adverblilt·ing·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for lilt

intonation, movement, refrain, tune, air

Examples from the Web for lilt

Contemporary Examples of lilt

Historical Examples of lilt

  • Was that indeed the end of it all, of the hope, the lilt, the glory?

  • That the fisherman's daughter with the Island lilt in her voice—well he recalled it!

    Major Vigoureux

    A. T. Quiller-Couch

  • No one who can play dance music with that lilt can be as cold as a stone—.

    Man and Maid

    Elinor Glyn

  • Through the window came to him the lilt of the fresh young voice.

    The Fighting Edge

    William MacLeod Raine

  • (Twig to the lilt, I have got it all right)Sleep, little babe, sleep on!

British Dictionary definitions for lilt



(in music) a jaunty rhythm
a buoyant motion

verb (intr)

(of a melody) to have a lilt
to move in a buoyant manner
Derived Formslilting, adjective

Word Origin for lilt

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

Word Origin and History for lilt

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