with little weight, force, intensity, etc.; gently: to press lightly on a door bell.
to only a small amount or degree; slightly: lightly fried eggs.
nimbly; quickly: to leap lightly aside.
with a lack of concern; indifferently; slightly: to think lightly of one's achievements.
cheerfully; without complaining: to take bad news lightly.
without due consideration or reason (often used negatively): an offer not to be refused lightly.
easily; without trouble or effort: Lightly come, lightly go.
frivolously; flippantly: to behave lightly.
airily; buoyantly: flags floating lightly.

before 900; Middle English lightli, Old English lēohtlīce. See light2, -ly Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
light2 (laɪt)
1.  not heavy; weighing relatively little
2.  having relatively low density: magnesium is a light metal
3.  lacking sufficient weight; not agreeing with standard or official weights
4.  not great in degree, intensity, or number: light rain; a light eater
5.  without burdens, difficulties, or problems; easily borne or done: a light heart; light work
6.  graceful, agile, or deft: light fingers
7.  not bulky or clumsy
8.  not serious or profound; entertaining: light verse
9.  without importance or consequence; insignificant: no light matter
10.  frivolous or capricious
11.  loose in morals
12.  dizzy or unclear: a light head
13.  (of bread, cake, etc) spongy or well leavened
14.  easily digested: a light meal
15.  relatively low in alcoholic content: a light wine
16.  (of a soil) having a crumbly texture
17.  of a vessel, lorry, etc
 a.  designed to carry light loads
 b.  not loaded
18.  carrying light arms or equipment: light infantry
19.  Compare heavy (of an industry) engaged in the production of small consumer goods using light machinery
20.  aeronautics (of an aircraft) having a maximum take-off weight less than 5670 kilograms (12 500 pounds)
21.  chem (of an oil fraction obtained from coal tar) having a boiling range between about 100° and 210°C
22.  (of a railway) having a narrow gauge, or in some cases a standard gauge with speed or load restrictions not applied to a main line
23.  bridge
 a.  (of a bid) made on insufficient values
 b.  (of a player) having failed to take sufficient tricks to make his contract
24.  phonetics, prosody Compare heavy See also light (of a syllable, vowel, etc) unaccented or weakly stressed; short
25.  phonetics the least of three levels of stress in an utterance, in such languages as English
26.  informal light on lacking a sufficient quantity of (something)
27.  make light of to treat as insignificant or trifling
28.  a less common word for lightly
29.  with little equipment, baggage, etc: to travel light
vb (foll by on or upon) , lights, lighting, lighted, lit
30.  (esp of birds) to settle or land after flight
31.  to get down from a horse, vehicle, etc
32.  to come upon unexpectedly
33.  to strike or fall on: the choice lighted on me
[Old English lēoht; related to Dutch licht, Gothic leihts]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. leohtlice "so as not to be heavy" (of material things, but also of sleep, blows, etc.); cognate with O.Fris. lichtelik, O.H.G. lihtlihho, Ger. leichtlich, O.N. lettlega (see light (adj.)). Meaning "frivolously, indifferently" is from early 13c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see get off (lightly); once over lightly.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Butter lettuce and tender spring greens are best when gently coated with a
  lightly acidic dressing.
Perhaps discarded then without a thought, the shoe is not dismissed so lightly
Lightly dust each piece of dough and then place the dough on a lightly floured
  work surface.
It was tender without being mushy-almost velvety-with a lightly nutty flavor.
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