hol·​ly ˈhä-lē How to pronounce holly (audio)
plural hollies
: any of a genus (Ilex of the family Aquifoliaceae, the holly family) of trees and shrubs
especially : either of two (I. opaca of the eastern U.S. and I. aquifolium of Eurasia) with spiny-margined evergreen leaves and usually red berries often used for Christmas decorations
: the foliage or branches of the holly

Examples of holly in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web More serious damage happens occasionally to hollies and other smaller trees, but rarely to others. Neil Sperry, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7 June 2024 Locally native alternative evergreens include Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) and American holly (Ilex opaca). Miri Talabac, Baltimore Sun, 18 Apr. 2024 Plant it near the back of the woody plant border, perhaps behind Carissa or dwarf yaupon hollies that can provide dark evergreen foliage as a nice contrast. Neil Sperry, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12 Apr. 2024 For the holly ornament, download the template (link below) and use it to cut eight holly leaves from gold-leafed kraft paper. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Nov. 2023 See all Example Sentences for holly 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'holly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English holin, holly, from Old English holen; akin to Old High German hulis holly, Middle Irish cuilenn

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of holly was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near holly

Cite this Entry

“Holly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holly. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


hol·​ly ˈhäl-ē How to pronounce holly (audio)
plural hollies
: either of two trees or shrubs of which one is found in the eastern U.S. and the other in Eurasia and which have evergreen leaves with spiny margins and usually bright red berries
: the leaves, berries, and branches of the holly

Medical Definition


see sea holly

More from Merriam-Webster on holly

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