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Webster 1913 Edition


Levity

Lev′i-ty

(lĕv′ĭ-ty̆)
,
Noun.
[L.
levitas
, fr.
levis
light in weight; akin to
levare
to raise. See
Lever
,
Noun.
]
1.
The quality of weighing less than something else of equal bulk; relative lightness, especially as shown by rising through, or floating upon, a contiguous substance; buoyancy; – opposed to
gravity
.
He gave the form of
levity
to that which ascended; to that which descended, the form of gravity.
Sir. W. Raleigh.
This bubble by reason of its comparative
levity
to the fluidity that incloses it, would ascend to the top.
Bentley.
2.
Lack of gravity and earnestness in deportment or character; trifling gayety; frivolity; sportiveness; vanity.
“ A spirit of levity and libertinism.”
Atterbury.
He never employed his omnipotence out of
levity
.
Calamy.
3.
Lack of steadiness or constancy; disposition to change; fickleness; volatility.
Syn. – Inconstancy; thoughtlessness; unsteadiness; inconsideration; volatility; flightiness.
Levity
,
Volatility
,
Flightiness
. All these words relate to outward conduct. Levity springs from a lightness of mind which produces a disregard of the proprieties of time and place.Volatility is a degree of levity which causes the thoughts to fly from one object to another, without resting on any for a moment. Flightiness is volatility carried to an extreme which often betrays its subject into gross impropriety or weakness. Levity of deportment, of conduct, of remark; volatility of temper, of spirits; flightiness of mind or disposition.

Webster 1828 Edition


Levity

LEV'ITY

,
Noun.
[L. levitas, from levis, light; connected perhaps with Eng. lift.]
1.
Lightness; the want of weight in a body, compared with another that is heavier. The ascent of a balloon in the air is owing to its levity, as the gas that fills it is lighter than common air.
2.
Lightness of temper or conduct; inconstancy; changeableness; unsteadiness; as the levity of youth.
3.
Want of due consideration; vanity; freak. He never employed his omnipotence out of levity or ostentation.
4.
Gaiety of mind; want of seriousness; disposition to trifle. The spirit of religion and seriousness was succeeded by levity.

Definition 2021


levity

levity

English

Noun

levity (usually uncountable, plural levities)

  1. Lightness of manner or speech, frivolity; lack of appropriate seriousness; inclination to make a joke of serious matters.
  2. (obsolete) Lack of steadiness.
  3. The state or quality of being light, buoyancy.
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald
      Most of the confidences were unsought - frequently I had feigned sleep, preoccupation or a hostile levity []
    • Robert Montgomery Bird:
      [] it would really seem as if there was something nomadic in our natures, a principle of levity and restlessness []
    • 1869, Mary Somerville, On Molecular and Microscopic Science 1.1.12:
      Hydrogen [] rises in the air on account of its levity.
  4. (countable) A lighthearted or frivolous act.
    • 1665, Daniel Defoe, History of the Plague in London:
      For though it be something wonderful to tell that any should have hearts so hardened, in the midst of such a calamity, as to rob and steal, yet certain it is that all sorts of villainies, and even levities and debaucheries, were then practiced in the town as openly as ever: I will not say quite as frequently, because the number of people were many ways lessened.
    • 1872, J. Fenimore Cooper, The Bravo:
      [] or do the people joy less than common in their levities?"
    • 1882, H.D. Traill, Sterne:
      His incorrigible levities had probably lost him the countenance of most of his more serious acquaintances [<span title="; his satirical humour had as probably gained him personal enemies not a few, and it may be that he had gradually contracted something of that "naughty-boy" temper, as we may call it, for which the deliberate and ostentatious repetition of offences has an inexplicable charm">…] .

Antonyms

Translations

References

  1. levity” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).