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[lilt] /lɪlt/
rhythmic swing or cadence.
a lilting song or tune.
verb (used without object), verb (used with 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 forms
liltingly, adverb
liltingness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for lilt
  • There is no lilt in the tone of these seven syllables, but a drop in register, a recitation born of resignation.
  • There was a kind of spring and lilt to it, quite indescribable by words.
  • The right length and lilt of a sentence will let your reader take your meaning from it, and take it with pleasure.
  • Yet they have more lilt and frolic in them than if they had been written last year.
British Dictionary definitions for lilt


(in music) a jaunty rhythm
a buoyant motion
verb (intransitive)
(of a melody) to have a lilt
to move in a buoyant manner
Derived Forms
lilting, adjective
Word Origin
C14 lulten, origin obscure
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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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
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