Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A cheerful or lively manner of speaking, in which the pitch of the voice varies pleasantly.
  • noun A light, happy tune or song.
  • noun A light or resilient manner of moving or walking.
  • intransitive verb To say, sing, or play (something) in a cheerful, rhythmic manner.
  • intransitive verb To speak, sing, or play with liveliness or rhythm.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To sway up and down, as a bird on a spray.
  • noun A snatch of a cheerful, lively song; a short, smooth-flowing, tripping air or tune.
  • noun Hence Cadence; rhythmic swing or flow.
  • To sound.
  • To sing or play in snatches, and with easy, tripping grace, as a song or a tune; utter or pour forth with sprightliness, animation, or gaiety.
  • To sing or play a tune in a sprightly, tripping manner; utter musical sounds flowingly and cheerfully.
  • To do anything with dexterity or quickness; spring; hop.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Animated, brisk motion; spirited rhythm; sprightliness.
  • noun A lively song or dance; a cheerful tune.
  • transitive verb To utter with spirit, animation, or gayety; to sing with spirit and liveliness.
  • intransitive verb Prov. Eng. To do anything with animation and quickness, as to skip, fly, or hop.
  • intransitive verb Scot. To sing cheerfully.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To do something rhythmically, with animation and quickness, usually of music.
  • verb To sing cheerfully, especially in Gaelic.
  • verb To utter with spirit, animation, or gaiety; to sing with spirit and liveliness.
  • noun Animated, brisk motion; spirited rhythm; sprightliness.
  • noun A lively song or dance; a cheerful tune.
  • noun A cheerful or melodious accent when speaking.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb articulate in a very careful and rhythmic way
  • noun a jaunty rhythm in music

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Middle English lulten, lilten, to sound an alarm.]

Examples

  • Carl and Faith were already on their way through the early moonlight to Rainbow Valley, having heard therefrom the elfin lilt of Jerry's jew's-harp and having guessed that the Blythes were there and fun afoot.

    Rainbow Valley

  • Not that hearing her voice isn't always a melody for me, but there was a far more pronounced "lilt" in her greeting.

    Stephanie Gertler: Hearts And Souls: A Family Deals With Grief

  • One thing was, one of the other guitar players, Chad, started playing this lick against the line that Vic had, and it was - it was almost perverse because it had this kind of lilt to it.

    Songs Of Survival And Reflection: 'At The Cut'

  • The "lilt" of Tannahill's finest verse is even more charming.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 4 "Bulgaria" to "Calgary"

  • A highly elaborated metrical system mainly distinguishes these writers, but some of page xiii their work catches a pleasing lilt which is supposed to represent the imitation of songs of the people.

    Modern Spanish Lyrics

  • When the chapters were reissued in America, the proofreader, warned by the presence of numerous other gross misprints, naturally corrected the meaningless "lilt" to the obvious and natural "tilt."

    The Booklover and His Books

  • Man, a've seen him tak a wee laddie on his knee that his ain mither cudna quiet, an 'lilt' Sing a song o 'saxpence' till the bit mannie would be lauchin 'like a gude are, an' pooin 'the doctor's beard.

    A Doctor of the Old School — Complete

  • Man, a've seen him tak a wee laddie on his knee that his ain mither cudna quiet, an 'lilt' Sing a song o 'saxpence' till the bit mannie wud be lauchin 'like a gude ane, an' pooin 'the doctor's beard.

    Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush

  • Man, a've seen him tak a wee laddie on his knee that his ain mither cudna quiet, an 'lilt' Sing a song o 'saxpence' till the bit mannie would be lauchin 'like a gude are, an' pooin 'the doctor's beard.

    A Doctor of the Old School — Volume 4

  • A kind of lilt is perceptible in many of the Skazkas, and traces of rhyme are often to be detected in them, but "The Mizgir's" mould is different from theirs.

    Russian Fairy Tales A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folk-lore

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