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

Some selections still standing after major storms within the 20 to 35 foot range include crape myrtles, hollies, red bud, sand live oaks, tree ligustrums and winged elms. Tom Maccubbin, orlandosentinel.com, "Hurricane Dorian reminder to check your trees for removal," 4 Sep. 2019 This season, deck the halls with boughs of holly—and bouts of laughter! Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "60 Best Christmas Puns That Yule Be Laughing at All Season Long," 27 Aug. 2019 The quarry last operated at the turn of the 20th century, and today, it is shaded with a lush canopy of indigenous ash, oak and holly trees. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Would You Like to Buy an Extinct Volcano?," 2 Aug. 2019 There is also a table in the entryway made of holly and ebony that has two legs and is built into a niche in an area where originally there was a second front door. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Grandparents’ grand Cedarburg home is gutted but preserved after 120-plus years," 11 July 2019 Dwarf Chinese hollies, dwarf yaupons and one of the improved Japanese boxwood selections also would be good options. Neil Sperry, ExpressNews.com, "How soon is too soon to use compost?," 7 June 2019 Size: 3 feet tall and wide USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8 Boxwood Lookalikes Gem Box Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra 'Gem Box') Here's a holly that resembles a boxwood! Arricca Sansone, Country Living, "20 Best Boxwood Shrubs to Plant in Your Garden," 14 Feb. 2019 Just look at The Home Depot's new holly jolly selection of indoor and outdoor Christmas decorations. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Here's Your First Look at The Home Depot's Best New Christmas Decorations," 14 Oct. 2018 Carissa hollies are ideal change-outs for the hawthorns. Neil Sperry, star-telegram, "Overgrown shrubs? Thinning turfgrass? Here are solutions to common gardening struggles," 13 June 2018

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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Statistics for holly

Last Updated

20 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for holly

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on holly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with holly

Spanish Central: Translation of holly

Nglish: Translation of holly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of holly for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about holly

Comments on holly

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to fake an opponent out of position

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