lightness

lightness
lightness, light-mindedness, levity, frivolity, flippancy, volatility, flightiness are comparable when denoting the quality, manner, or attitude of one who is irresponsibly gay or indifferent especially when seriousness is expected.
Lightness implies a general lack of weight or seriousness (as in character, mood, conduct, or speech)
{

the lightness of tone with which I uttered such serious words— E. J. Goodman

}
The term may further imply instability
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there is a lightness about the feminine mind—a touch and go— George Eliot

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or carefree heedlessness
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looked at her perplexedly, wondering if it were lightness or dissimulation that enabled her to touch so easily on the past— Wharton

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or indifference to the seriousness of a situation
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treating with lightness what is matter of life and death— Arnold

}
Light-mindedness, even more than lightness, suggests a temperamental lack of seriousness or stability (women are often unjustly accused of light-mindedness)
Levity usually suggests more specifically trifling or unseasonable gaiety
{

her levity, her frivolous laughter, her unwomanly jests— J. R. Green

}
{

Molière and his audience were accustomed to regard conjugal infidelity with levity when it did not touch themselves— Alexander

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Frivolity adds to lightness the implication of empty or idle speech or conduct; the term often carries a strong connotation of triviality or of pettiness
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the extraordinary frivolity of much which passes for religious interest— Inge

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{

tried to suggest . . . that intellectual curiosity was not necessarily a form of sin or even frivolityTime

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but its most frequent implication is that of such indulgence in meaningless gaieties that serious employments are disregarded
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people . . . whose idleness and frivolity and extravagance set a most corrupting moral example— Shaw

}
{

every form of human frivolity from bingo to short bathing suits on Sunday— Coons

}
Flippancy applies especially to unbecoming levity or pertness in speaking of or in dealing with serious things
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modest, and without anything like flippancy, yet without any obsequiousness— Arthur Young

}
{

the flippancy with which my requests for information are treated— Kipling

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Volatility implies such lightness or fickleness of disposition as precludes long or serious dwelling upon any one idea or plan
{

volatility of character evinces no capabilities for great affections— Shelley}

}
{

another current characteristic . . . observed is the volatility of the public mind at this time— M. W. Childs

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Flightiness may imply extreme volatility, often with a suggestion of loss of mental balance
{

his flightiness has been noticeable since his severe illness

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but it often suggests extreme capriciousness or a gay whimsicality characteristic of one who is not long contented with what he has or does
{

flightiness was her infirmity .... Little things filled her thoughts— Glasgow

}
Analogous words: buoyancy, resiliency, elasticity, effervescence, expansiveness (see corresponding adjectives at ELASTIC): gaiety, liveliness, vivaciousness or vivacity (see corresponding adjectives at LIVELY): lightheartedness, cheerfulness (see corresponding adjectives at GLAD)
Antonyms: seriousness
Contrasted words: graveness or gravity, earnestness, soberness, sedateness, staidness, somberness (see corresponding adjectives at SERIOUS)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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