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[lilt] /lɪlt/
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 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 lilting
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His eyes brimmed with a lilting excitement and a vast anticipation.

    Double Challenge James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • It was answered by a lilting shout as men sprang to their feet.

    The Golden Amazons of Venus John Murray Reynolds
  • All the year through its voice was a lilting undertone, and the seasons ran away to the thread of its silver song.

    Dwellers in Arcady Albert Bigelow Paine
  • How few of the present generation have ever heard of this "lilting," except in song.

  • Of a sudden, she became aware of the blending perfumes of the wild flowers and the lilting of an amorous thrush in the wood.

    Heart of the Blue Ridge Waldron Baily
  • It was Tilly's voice, and it rang with the lilting tones of triumphant joy.

    The Cottage of Delight Will N. Harben
British Dictionary definitions for lilting


(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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lilting



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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