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jol·​ly ˈjä-lē How to pronounce jolly (audio)
jollier; jolliest
: full of high spirits : joyous
think no more, lad; laugh, be jollyA. E. Housman
: given to conviviality : jovial
a jolly companion
: expressing, suggesting, or inspiring lively happiness and good cheer : cheerful
jolly laughter
: extremely pleasant or agreeable : splendid
had a jolly time


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: very
would … do as they were jolly well toldJohn Stockbridge


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plural jollies
chiefly British : a good time : jollification
jollies plural : kicks
get their jollies by reenacting famous murdersH. F. Waters


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jollied; jollying

intransitive verb

: to engage in good-natured banter
jollied and joked with sailors in the streetDixon 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 alongS. E. White
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
Recent Examples on the Web
In the end, however, the story mingled Westwood’s roguish aesthetic sensibility with a whirlwind tour of Tokyo—a place where the designer’s most provocative work has resonated for decades—starring a jolly band of models, chefs, floral artists, bonsai masters, musicians, and content creators. Theo Liu, Vogue, 22 Aug. 2023 Like many travelers, the Cardinals hope to have a jolly time in London. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 22 June 2023 Writers, actors, and hella fans donned their jolliest Rogers and demanded at least as good treatment for the writers as pirates on a pirate ship. Vulture, 20 June 2023 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, 4 Dec. 2020 Twitter and other social media had a jolly time. Chicago Tribune, 10 Jan. 2023 That's the conclusion of a review paper in the Christmas issue of BMJ that asks the jolly question of whether laughter can kill. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 29 Aug. 2014 The stock market tends to end the year on a jolly note—stocks nearly always finish December in the green, moreso than any other month. Eric Wallerstein, WSJ, 15 Dec. 2022 The suit dates back to before Jackson, 58, took on the jolly obligation. Baltimore Sun Staff, Baltimore Sun, 30 Dec. 2022
Many have themes, like jolly Santas, frilly feathers, or peppermint swirls. Brandee Gruener, Southern Living, 22 Nov. 2023 Integrating a new Christmas food trend or two into this, the most holly, jolly season. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Nov. 2023 For chilly mornings and dark winter nights, this jolly tea cozy by Orla Kiely will keep both your teapot and spirits warm. Sarah Rose,, 2 Nov. 2023 Looking from afar, there are some jolly aspects to that, like happy centenarians who are living healthy lives on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Claire Moses, New York Times, 19 Feb. 2023 Say goodbye to bathroom woes and hello to a happier tummy, all while having a jolly good time. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 17 June 2023 Themed venues await at this after-hours event that embraces a holly jolly atmosphere with a boatload of specialty entertainment. Carly Caramanna, Travel + Leisure, 3 Oct. 2023 Decorate with red frosting and sprinkles for a jolly sweet treat. 17 Cream Cheese Christmas Cookies Wrapped in Christmas sprinkles of red and green, these nutty cookies will brighten your holiday cookie tray. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 22 Sep. 2023 Holst’s musical telescope is, of course, meant for astrology, not astronomy, and whether buoyant Mercury, seductively peaceful Venus, jolly Victorian Jupiter, cranky old Saturn or magician Uranus, each was sketched with show-offy, neon-bright colors and climaxes of extreme power. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2023
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, 25 Dec. 2021
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, 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, 19 May 2017 See More

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

Word History


Adjective, Adverb, Noun, and Verb

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

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near jolly

Cite this Entry

“Jolly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
jol·​ly ˈjäl-ē How to pronounce jolly (audio)
jollier; jolliest
: very pleasant or agreeable : splendid


2 of 2 adverb
: very entry 2 sense 1
a jolly good time

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