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. 2018

Examples from the Web for lithely

Historical Examples of lithely

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for lithely


  1. 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 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