• lilt •Pronunciation: lilt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: 1. To speak, sing or play music in a light and lively, pleasantly cheerful fashion. 2. To move almost as if dancing to music.
Notes: An English word spelled the way it is pronounced is a rarity, but today's Most Beautiful Word is precisely that (see Pronunciation); this only adds to its beauty. It supports an identical noun that allows you to walk with a lilt or speak with a lilt in your voice. Feel free to use the participle as an adjective: a lilting air played on a xylophone could be heard in the background.
In Play: Lilt is usually a quality seen or felt in sounds or motions: "When Gloria Seiz noticed her boss at a table across the restaurant, she immediately lilted over to chat him up." Wherever there is motion, it is lovelier with a lilt: "Pietro was swept away by the lilt in Angelina's hair as she talked restively in the group."
Word History: Today's beautiful little word has left too few crumbs to follow back to an origin. Someone suggested that it might be related to Dutch lullepijp "bagpipe". This is probably true, but it doesn't tell us anything about its origin. It is also most probably related to lull and lullaby, but that doesn't help us, either. We may have to give up hope of finding an explanation of this word and simply enjoy the beauty of today's Good Word.