jol·​ly | \ ˈjä-lē How to pronounce jolly (audio) \
jollier; jolliest

Definition of jolly

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a(1) : full of high spirits : joyous think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly— A. E. Housman
(2) : given to conviviality : jovial a jolly companion
b : expressing, suggesting, or inspiring lively happiness and good cheer : cheerful jolly laughter
2 : extremely pleasant or agreeable : splendid had a jolly time



Definition of jolly (Entry 2 of 4)

: very would … do as they were jolly well told— John Stockbridge


plural jollies

Definition of jolly (Entry 3 of 4)

1 chiefly British : a good time : jollification
2 jollies plural : kicks get their jollies by reenacting famous murders— H. F. Waters


jollied; jollying

Definition of jolly (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

: to engage in good-natured banter jollied and joked with sailors in the street— Dixon Wecter

transitive verb

: to put or try to put in good humor especially to gain an end try to pay for their entertainment by jollying us along— S. E. White

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Choose the Right Synonym for jolly


merry, blithe, jocund, jovial, jolly mean showing high spirits or lightheartedness. merry suggests cheerful, joyous, uninhibited enjoyment of frolic or festivity. a merry group of revelers blithe suggests carefree, innocent, or even heedless gaiety. arrived late in his usual blithe way jocund stresses elation and exhilaration of spirits. singing, dancing, and jocund feasting jovial suggests the stimulation of conviviality and good fellowship. dinner put them in a jovial mood jolly suggests high spirits expressed in laughing, bantering, and jesting. our jolly host enlivened the party

Examples of jolly in a Sentence

Adjective Our boss was a very jolly man, always laughing. She had a jolly time at the party. Adverb “I've finished my assignment.” “Jolly good!” She learned to be jolly careful in his presence. Verb spent their nights around the campfire good-naturedly jollying and telling scary stories
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Tesla's 2020 Holiday Update, Firmware 2020.48.25 dropped on Christmas Day like a present from a jolly man dressed in red short shorts. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Tesla Holiday Update Has Farting Horn, Revised Screen Layout," 27 Dec. 2020 This Santa looked nothing like the image young Braden-Perry, who is Black, had associated with the jolly bearer of gifts. Ravien Iris Burns | Jrnola,, "Yes, New Orleans, there is a Santa Claus -- and his spirit lives on in the Seventh Ward," 21 Dec. 2020 As reporters reveled largely in the jolly questions of who done it and who undone it, internet basements simmered with scolding. Mark Sundeen, Outside Online, "Who's Really to Blame for the Monolith Shitshow," 3 Dec. 2020 The jolly figure will appear underwater along with a few sharks, taking photos with visitors for two weekends at the aquarium, located at 2000 Sycamore Street in Cleveland. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "Scuba Claus returning to Greater Cleveland Aquarium," 10 Nov. 2020 Le said Ngo is known for his jolly disposition, zest for life and religious faith. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mira Mesa man, 109, celebrates Centenarians Day with a yard party," 20 Sep. 2020 Ah, the jolly dance of progress, one step forward, one to the side, and three steps back! Joseph Epstein, National Review, "Swamped by Technology," 17 Sep. 2020 One night Pepys, lonely and standing before a window outside a bar, stared longingly at the jolly, sociable people inside. Pete Muller, National Geographic, "The second wave? Or a long first wave?," 15 June 2020 The mascot on early boxes was known as Rastus, a caricature of a jolly, former slave often featured in minstrel shows. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Eskimo Pie, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben's and Cream of Wheat are changing. Are the Washington Redskins next?," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Santa, played by Little Rock lawyer Robert Newcomb, set up shop at St. James United Methodist Church in his shiny red truck for a drive-thru visit with the jolly old elf. Rachel O'neal, Arkansas Online, "Socially distant Christmas: Activities included Youth, Family Centers donation drive, Santa visit," 4 Jan. 2021 In Dubai, a jolly Santa Claus entertains children against the backdrop of his Lapland workshop. Liam Hess, Vogue, "Zoom for the Holidays: How the World Celebrated Online in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 Santa isn’t always a jolly old man in a red velvet suit. Dahleen Glanton,, "Column: In some neighborhoods, Santa is a volunteer kids see every day," 23 Dec. 2020 To seek to be jolly, decent, godly, serene, And toil restlessly, bear these said tasks unseen. Washington Post, "Style Invitational Week 1416: The Year in Redo, Part 2," 23 Dec. 2020 Yakes said with a jolly smile under his mask and beard. Slone Terranella, Detroit Free Press, "Full-time nurse, part-time Santa visits tiny intensive care unit babies for Christmas," 22 Dec. 2020 Parker etched so many cheerful memories of New Orleans residents into vivid photographs of that jolly old elf aside themselves. Ravien Iris Burns | Jrnola,, "Yes, New Orleans, there is a Santa Claus -- and his spirit lives on in the Seventh Ward," 21 Dec. 2020 His mishap, however festive, shows why civilians should perhaps leave the more magical elements of Christmas to the real jolly old man in red. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "Ho Oh No! Santa gets tangled up in some power lines," 21 Dec. 2020 Power was shut off to about 200 people as firefighters worked to extract the jolly old elf from the lines, Vestal said. Los Angeles Times, "Santa Claus got run over by a power line in Sacramento," 21 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Audiences began to take notice of this less-than-jolly movie that flooded the airways at Christmas time, and thus a holiday tradition was born. Rachael Scott, CNN, "How World War II shaped 'It's a Wonderful Life'," 19 Dec. 2020 But the home secretary’s outing, on August 10th, was hardly a jolly. The Economist, "Immigration Britain’s migrant invasion that wasn’t," 15 Aug. 2020 Tickets already were on sale for Christmas Village, a holly-jolly tradition that typically takes place in late October and early November at the BJCC Exhibition Halls. Mary Colurso |, al, "Christmas Village Festival 2020 canceled in Birmingham," 12 Aug. 2020 The Christmas jollies may quickly fade when drivers head home, as traffic jams are expected to be the worst the day after Christmas. Mola Lenghi, CBS News, "Record 115 million Americans expected to travel for holidays," 20 Dec. 2019 People who get their jollies by crushing helpless animals underfoot would be a perfect place to begin. Ted Diadiun, cleveland, "Why do we need a law to keep people from torturing animals?," 6 Dec. 2019 More troublesome are the timefall phenomena that accompany the BTs, and the human enemies who get their jollies from stealing and hoarding cargo. Evan Lewis,, "Death Stranding is as bizarre as it is innovative," 1 Nov. 2019 The drinks - from fine rose to Pimm's - flow freely and are served by attentive male waiters, most akin to models in their looks, while a band jollies along in the background. Matt Majendie, CNN, "London's boutique horse sale in Prince William's back yard," 26 June 2019 The rich customers came off as ruthless one-percenters, getting their jollies by shooting cowboys and raping women. Kristi Turnquist,, "'Westworld' Season 2: Violence is abundant, but delights are scarce (review)," 20 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As to the political will needed to jolly the process along, and arrange payment for those parts of the programme that will not pay for themselves, this can push both ways. The Economist, "Predicting the climatic future is riddled with uncertainty," 21 Sep. 2019 So Watt sets out to convince them that the real killer is Peter Manuel by — wait for it! — taking him out on a bender and jollying him into a confession. Marilyn Stasio, New York Times, "Scots on the Rocks and Jo Nesbo’s Latest: The Best New Crime Fiction," 19 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jolly.' 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 jolly


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1549, in the meaning defined above


1905, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1610, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for jolly

Adjective, Adverb, Noun, and Verb

Middle English joli, from Anglo-French jolif, from jol-, probably from Old Norse jōl midwinter festival — more at yule

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Time Traveler for jolly

Time Traveler

The first known use of jolly was in the 14th century

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Statistics for jolly

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jolly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for jolly


How to pronounce jolly (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of jolly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: full of happiness and joy : happy and cheerful
old-fashioned : very pleasant or enjoyable



English Language Learners Definition of jolly (Entry 2 of 2)

British, informal + old-fashioned : very or extremely


jol·​ly | \ ˈjä-lē How to pronounce jolly (audio) \
jollier; jolliest

Kids Definition of jolly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: full of fun or joy



Kids Definition of jolly (Entry 2 of 2)

: very entry 1 sense 1 We had a jolly good time.

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