Definition of sprightly in English:
adjective (sprightlier, sprightliest)
- Felicity, ‘a spunky, spritely girl growing up in Virginia in 1774,’ visits a local plantation where there are clearly slaves; the issue never arises.
- Brian followed and greeted Michelle quietly while smiling at his spritely sister.
- A sprightly woman wrings her hands as if flirtatiously sizing up a fellow resident at the nursing home.
spirit from (Middle English):
Our word spirit is based on Latin spiritus ‘breath or spirit’, from spirare ‘to breathe’—the ancient Romans believed that the human soul had been ‘breathed’ into the body—the image is the same as ‘the breath of life’. The sense ‘strong distilled alcoholic drink’ comes from the use in alchemy of spirit to mean ‘a liquid essence extracted from some substance’. People sometimes say the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak when they have good intentions but yield to temptation and fail to live up to them. The source is the New Testament, where Jesus uses the phrase after finding his disciples asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane despite telling them that they should stay awake. Spirare forms the basis of numerous English words including aspire (mid 16th century) from adspirare ‘to breath upon, seek to reach’; conspire (Late Middle English) from conspirare ‘to breath together, agree’; expire (late 16th century) ‘to breath out’; inspire (Late Middle English) ‘breath into’ from the idea that a divine or outside power has inspired you; and perspire (mid 17th century) ‘to breath through’; and transpire (Late Middle English) ‘breath across. In English spirit was shortened to sprite (Middle English) which in turn developed sprightly (late 16th century).
- Example sentences
- ‘But I'm 18, that's how old I feel,’ he says - and there is, to be sure, a sprightliness about him still.
- If I was known for my sprightliness on the field, it was because I gave everything to be fit and healthy.
- Yet it was their sprightliness in attack, their urgency in scampering forward, that characterised the early exchanges at Rugby Park.
What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?
Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.