adjective, lith·er, lith·est.

bending readily; pliant; limber; supple; flexible: the lithe body of a ballerina.

Also lithe·some [lahyth-suh m] /ˈlaɪð səm/.

Origin of lithe

before 900; Middle English lith(e), Old English līthe; cognate with Old Saxon līthi, German lind “mild,” Latin lentus “slow”
Related formslithe·ly, adverblithe·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lithe

Contemporary Examples of lithe

Historical Examples of lithe

  • 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.


    James Huneker

British Dictionary definitions for lithe



flexible or supple
Derived Formslithely, adverblitheness, noun

Word Origin for lithe

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

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