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 For family-friendly Facebook, Dolly in a jolly Christmas sweater. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "That 'LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder' meme was started by none other than Dolly Parton," 24 Jan. 2020 For example, images of Winnie the Pooh, an endearingly jolly bear with a penchant for honey, have been censored across the country. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "University of Minnesota student imprisoned in China for mocking Xi Jinping," 22 Jan. 2020 On the way back to Epcot, the tour’s holly jolly guests get two more surprises: A printout of the Christmas photo taken at the Disney Event Group as well as a pin not only exclusive to the Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy, but also specific to the year. Kathleen Christiansen,, "Disney tour spreads Christmas cheer with exclusive experiences," 27 Nov. 2019 The breakfast is a very festive holiday affair with a jolly old Santa right there to visit with the kids. Chris Folks,, "West Laurel: Young musicians heading to the Windy City; woman’s club to hold Breakfast With Santa," 27 Nov. 2019 Travelers have certainly taken advantage of the jolly competition—the illuminations are so popular, that lights remain up in the city until February. Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "19 Best Christmas Light Displays Around the World," 26 Nov. 2019 But if pressing your own fresh coconut doesn’t sound like a holly jolly good time, don’t feel deterred. Nina Hemphill Reeder, Essence, "Get Into The Holiday Spirit With These Traditional Caribbean Cocktails," 25 Dec. 2019 The singer, 40, and supermodel, 34, spent the holiday with family and their kids, daughter Luna Simone, 3½, and son Miles Theodore, 19 months — but the group was interrupted Christmas morning by a certain jolly visitor dressed in red. Jen Juneau,, "A Legendary Christmas! Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Surprise Kids with Real-Life Santa Clause," 25 Dec. 2019 Each flat has a kitchen, and there is a jolly communal café. The Economist, "Finland has slashed homelessness; the rest of Europe is failing," 18 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The atmosphere was rather jolly, this being not only the eve of Fonda’s birthday but also the Friday before Christmas. Barbara Demick, The New Yorker, "Jane Fonda’s Climate-Change Star Power," 27 Dec. 2019 Then again, maybe your holiday gifts weren't so holly and jolly. Wired Staff, Wired, "Got some Holiday Cash? Check Out These After-Christmas Deals," 27 Dec. 2019 There was nothing merry, holly or jolly about this Christmas for the Milwaukee Bucks. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "76ers 121, Bucks 109: A Christmas performance to forget for Giannis and friends," 25 Dec. 2019 Each was marked with a stamp or a sticker showing the program’s jolly mascot, and on one side of each box was the last name of a family in need: Williams, Martinez, Vaughn, Zhu. Jeremy C. Fox,, "USPS helps Globe Santa get gifts down the chimney," 17 Dec. 2019 Besides, only a real Grinch would ticket such a jolly ol’ soul. René A. Guzman,, "San Antonio man steals the Christmas show as the Grinch on an ATV sled," 16 Dec. 2019 That’s bad news for jolly old St. Nick, who lives far away in the North Pole. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Colombia is threatening to sue Walmart over a cocaine-themed holiday sweater," 11 Dec. 2019 The pro-Christmasites’ answer: well, there was nothing jolly about the Massacre of the Innocents, either. N.b., The Economist, "Is “Die Hard” a Christmas film?," 6 Dec. 2019 Very jolly, very happy, very whimsical and magical. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Lindsey Stirling is so not sorry for getting an early start on Christmas this year," 20 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 The Hamptons can finally get its jollies out after years of burning, suppressed desire, a tension that could press coal into diamond in a second flat. Richard Lawson, Vanities, "Finally, the Hamptons Will Be Sexy," 5 July 2017 The Hamptons can finally get its jollies out after years of burning, suppressed desire, a tension that could press coal into diamond in a second flat. Richard Lawson,, "Finally, the Hamptons Will Be Sexy," 5 July 2017 And as ever with Gorillaz, Albarn got his jollies by leading the way through bouncy, easily accessible and playfully experimental pop songs that whimsically combine mostly American music forms, with the help of lots of guests. Dan Deluca,, "Review: Gorillaz satisfy a soggy crowd at Festival Pier," 14 July 2017 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

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Jolly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on jolly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for jolly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with jolly

Spanish Central: Translation of jolly

Nglish: Translation of jolly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of jolly for Arabic Speakers

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