Definition of lightly in English:



  • 1Gently, delicately or softly.

    ‘she placed her hand lightly on my shoulder’
    • ‘In an auditorium in Taipei, about 400 relatives also took part in a Buddhist ceremony with monks chanting softly and drumming lightly on wooden blocks.’
    • ‘Liz reaches up and lightly shuts Jason's jaw.’
    • ‘Bend the toes of your right foot back, bend your knee, and let the sole of your right foot come lightly into contact with your opponent's abdomen.’
    • ‘Around the front door was a jumble of wild roses and he went up the path and knocked lightly.’
    • ‘Starting at the ceiling, lightly press the tape into the corner.’
    • ‘Elizabeth found it difficult to keep the pleading tone suppressed in her voice as she touched her friend's free hand lightly.’
    • ‘Darcy raised a hand to brush her face lightly.’
    • ‘You say you have finger problems, but actually, a fingertip grip makes it easier to grip the ball lightly than a conventional grip.’
    • ‘After he was dressed he kissed his sister lightly on the forehead, headed to the stables where he found his ever-ready steed.’
    • ‘From fairway bunkers, take one club longer than normal, position the ball back in your stance and grip the club lightly.’
    • ‘William was too caught up in the lively creature, whose well-manicured hands flew lightly over the keys.’
    • ‘He lightly rapped his knuckles on the passenger window of the lone car.’
    • ‘He took my hand and lightly kissed it.’
    • ‘Frankie took her hand and lightly brushed it.’
    • ‘Then she actually began to slap my arm lightly - not very hard, just enough to provoke me.’
    • ‘Sarah repeats the knock, less lightly.’
    • ‘Take another of the bags and make it into a tie by pulling lightly on diagonal corners.’
    • ‘He lifted the needle from her back to pinch her upper arm lightly.’
    • ‘Still, we touched each other lightly, and my right front tyre was slit in the process.’
    • ‘"Right over there, sugar," Angel said, lifting the little girl up, and placing her lightly on the ground.’
    sparingly, slightly, sparsely, moderately, softly, thinly, delicately
    without severe punishment, easily, leniently, mildly
    carelessly, airily, readily, heedlessly, without consideration, uncaringly, indifferently, unthinkingly, thoughtlessly, flippantly, facilely, breezily, frivolously
    softly, gently, faintly, delicately
    View synonyms
  • 2In relatively small amounts or in low density; sparingly.

    ‘it was snowing lightly’
    • ‘Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the until lightly browned on all sides.’
    • ‘To encourage compactness and flowering, prune around the edges of the plant and very lightly over the top.’
    • ‘Use your hands or a wooden spoon to toss so that the vegetables are lightly coated with oil.’
    • ‘Lightly scatter your seeds by hand on the prepared soil.’
    • ‘All three facilities, built by the Soviet Union, have been in mothballs or lightly used in recent years.’
    • ‘Cook over a low heat until the mixture barely thickens and lightly coats the back of the spoon.’
    • ‘I also prune lightly between flowering cycles.’
    • ‘Spoon the batter into a preheated, lightly greased griddle or frying pan.’
    • ‘Lightly flour the pan, knocking out any excess flour; set aside.’
    • ‘This is a brilliant accompaniment for sizzling, crisp breaded chicken and Parmesan fillets, served with deep fried lightly battered cauliflower sprigs.’
    • ‘Vast, mountainous, woody, and lightly populated, Algeria offered terrain favorable to guerrilla warfare.’
    • ‘Crush and add the garlic along with the grated ginger and stir fry for about 3 minutes until lightly browned.’
    • ‘The cake may be served fresh or, after 2 or 3 days will be excellent if sliced and lightly toasted.’
    • ‘The haddock was perfectly flaky and moist, lightly topped with bread crumbs, and served over sauteed spinach and sage mashed potatoes.’
    • ‘These 5 subjects were placed in the lightly exposed group, yielding a total of 11 subjects who were lightly exposed to tobacco smoke.’
    • ‘However, don't thin at all if your tree is bearing lightly this year.’
    • ‘We also sampled the roasted asparagus and red pepper appetizer, a refreshingly simple plate of vegetables served cold and lightly drizzled with a tangy topping.’
    • ‘Roll each part on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle.’
    • ‘This extremely winter-hardy species thrives in a lightly shaded location.’
    • ‘They were not expecting trouble and a lightly equipped token force accompanied the King.’
  • 3In a way that is not serious or solemn; carelessly.

    ‘it is not something that should be taken lightly’
    • ‘Assault should never be taken lightly.’
    • ‘To be tested in the key hunting grounds of the London orchestras at such an early stage in his career was not something the Scot took lightly.’
    • ‘Such enormous guilt, such responsibility could not be taken lightly.’
    • ‘We shouldn't take that responsibility lightly.’
    • ‘You speak so lightly of capturing and shooting prize vessels!’
    • ‘Divorce is a decision that's not to be made lightly.’
    • ‘Yes, nonprofit organization offers certain legal protections to the artifacts and the collection, and these are not to be taken lightly.’
    • ‘The 24-week limit should stay, on the grounds that women do not undertake terminations lightly.’
    • ‘Going to war isn't something we do lightly.’
    • ‘This is too sensitive a time to be taking such matters lightly.’
    • ‘You and Mr. Darcy are not so different in temperament that you may treat your disagreements lightly.’
    • ‘They don't throw those terms around lightly.’
    • ‘Her death, which was handled a bit lightly - I feel it needed more gravitas - altered the arc of the show once again.’
    • ‘Responsible people like police, paramedics and teachers will not take the step of passing on suspicions of child abuse lightly.’
    • ‘Following Jesus is not something anyone should undertake lightly.’
    • ‘Attracting the spending power of employees and trainees to the area should not be dismissed lightly.’
    • ‘You have been correct in your assumption, Jane doesnt take things lightly.’
    • ‘"People don't sign contracts lightly, and rarely pull out as they lose their deposit," he said.’
    • ‘The costs of blocking immigration cannot be lightly dismissed.’
    • ‘Endorsing a political candidate is not something we take lightly.’
  • 4Without severe punishment; leniently.

    ‘some people are let off lightly’
    • ‘It seems all too often that the evil doers are let off lightly.’
    • ‘Meanwhile those responsible for the workers misery and the trade in human beings seem to get off lightly - once again.’
    • ‘Park said they were lucky to escape so lightly.’