hol·​ly | \ ˈhä-lē How to pronounce holly (audio) \
plural hollies

Definition of holly

1 : 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
2 : the foliage or branches of the holly

Examples of holly in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Specimens can grow up to 40-feet tall, stay narrow enough to fit nicely in most home landscapes, and as long as there’s a male holly in the neighborhood, female specimens produce those fabulous berries for a super winter display. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 3 Sep. 2021 Shrubs planted included speckled alder, service berry, sweet pepperbush, elderberry, highbush blueberry, and bayberry, and varieties of holly, dogwood, and choke cherry among others. BostonGlobe.com, 8 July 2021 So hang out the holly, clutch a warming elixir and hook up your best speakers for these concert programs by Twin Cities ensembles. Rob Hubbard, Star Tribune, 3 Dec. 2020 Normally, only portions of the plants have dead sections, and the rest of the holly is capable of recovery. Tom Maccubbin, orlandosentinel.com, 21 Nov. 2020 Decorate your tree in green holly leaf lights ($11), red poinsettia bulbs ($11), or our favorite option—festive Christmas bird lights ($11). Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 28 Aug. 2020 Other excellent hollies include East Palatka, Dwarf Burford, Needle Point (also known as Willow Leaf), Wirt Winn, Savannah, Yaupon and Dwarf Yaupon. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 4 Mar. 2020 The pretty red berries of the American holly (Ilex opaca) can certainly look inviting. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, 13 Aug. 2019 For example, consider the hybrid blue or Meserve hollies, a group of crosses between English holly and an Asian species. Beth Botts, chicagotribune.com, 7 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of holly

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

History and Etymology for holly

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

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Time Traveler for holly

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

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Dictionary Entries Near holly



holly bay

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Cite this Entry

“Holly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holly. Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for holly



English Language Learners Definition of holly

: a tree or bush with dark green leaves and bright red berries also : the branches of this plant which are used for decoration especially at Christmas


hol·​ly | \ ˈhä-lē How to pronounce holly (audio) \
plural hollies

Kids Definition of holly

: an evergreen tree or shrub that has shiny leaves with prickly edges and red berries


Medical Definition of holly

— see sea holly

More from Merriam-Webster on holly

Nglish: Translation of holly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of holly for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about holly


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