Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English lifly, lyfly, lyflich, from Old English līflīċ (living; vital), equivalent to life +‎ -ly. Doublet of lively.


lifely (comparative more lifely, superlative most lifely)

  1. Of, pertaining to, or endued with life; living; vital; essential.
    • 1836, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Method of Spiritual Culture:
      But since there is no other universal language of grammar, a middle course can be taken, and the English grammar may be taught according to a more lifely classification, and in a more lifely language; […]
    • 1887, Leader Scott, The Life of William Barnes: Poet and Philologist:
      Every breathsome being is lifely, Every man is a breathsome being, Every man is lifely.
    • 2010, Guy Albert Sadler, Outline for A Viable Techno Sphere:
      We are, in comparison, much as mischievous adolescents in their self-conscious age of realization (in their fresh sequence of lifely development) for, too, our species has been shunted through the prevailing pessimism and accomplished the seemingly impossible metamorphosis of our progenitor's obsession: to produce a better specimen in the unfolding continuance of the species.
    • 2011, Artis Lee Howard, Driven Into the Game:
      “Now you listen here you low lifely bastard, he said, while pointing a finger. I know that you're a heartless motherfucker who chose to hurt people.
    • 2012, Anna Sophia Karin Wettig, Facelifting Without Surgery:
      This is only a fashion and will change. Try to find out what colours make you look more lifely and more healthy.
    • 2013, Davina Worton, Someday:
      “Apparently, when everyone reluctantly explained their various lifely circumstances, you made no comments whatsoever. Were you perhaps ashamed or disgusted by what you were told?” “Most certainly not!” indignantly assured Madavena. “Instead, I was overcome with surprised admiration! I suddenly realised that my seemingly ordinary family had experienced every lifely situation imaginable!

Etymology 2Edit

Compare English lively.


lifely (comparative more lifely, superlative most lifely)

  1. (archaic) In a lifelike manner.
    • 1826, George Lewis Smyth, The monuments and genii of st. Paul's cathedral and of Westminster abbey:
      Unslain fro thee, which ay us lifely herteth, With books of his ornat enditing That is to all this land enlumining.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for lifely in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)