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 While the number of drinkers in jolly red suits usually surpasses 1,000 at this costumed crawl, there’s plenty of cocktails to go around. Phillip Valys,, "SantaCon’s tipsy Santas are stumbling to town in Fort Lauderdale and Miami," 6 Dec. 2019 This theatrical rendition of the classic film shines light on a jolly man named Kris Kringle, who takes a job in 1947 as a Macy’s Santa. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Plays, festivals, selfies and more ring in the holidays in Houston," 3 Dec. 2019 No holly, jolly guy in a red suit throwing around candy canes and ho, ho, hos. Allyson Reedy, The Know, "6 winter train rides in Colorado to get you in the holiday spirit," 3 Dec. 2019 This jolly ice-breaker is also a calculated dose of escapism. The Economist, "Britain’s potential prime ministers both face accusations of prejudice," 30 Nov. 2019 The toy industry hasn't had a very jolly year, with last year's collapse of Toys R Us feeding into a 9% dip in toy sales through July, according to the NPD Group. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Hot holiday toys: No breakout hits, but a handful of "wow" gifts," 25 Nov. 2019 Dinner preparation waits until the jolly man in red waves atop his parade sleigh. Pat Lenhoff,, "Column: The holiday season is upon us. Enjoy it while it lasts.," 30 Oct. 2019 Candace passed with flying colors, looking every bit as Christmassy as the jolly, white-bearded man by her side. Rebekah Lowin, Country Living, "Candace Cameron-Bure Hit the Red Carpet in a Seriously Sparkly Top," 26 Oct. 2019 Lucy is also conducting an affair of her own, living with the gentle, abstracted Bob while sleeping with the jolly and itinerant Laff. Ben Lerner, The New Yorker, "Rosmarie Waldrop’s Novel of the In-Between," 30 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb That's bad news for jolly old St. Nick, who lives far away in the North Pole. Deanna Paul, Anchorage Daily News, "Walmart pulls Christmas sweaters that mixed Santa with sex and cocaine," 10 Dec. 2019 But the Bakers’ daughter later remembered that Florida pioneer life was not all jolly good times. Joy Wallace Dickinson,, "From Lake Helen to Christmas, history-based gatherings put out a welcome mat for the holidays," 24 Nov. 2019 Go here for tropical drinks with a holly-jolly vibe. Josie Sexton, The Know, "Everything you need to know about Denver’s Christmas pop-up bars," 19 Nov. 2019 The books naturally differ in tone, and the plays — one soothingly jolly, the other brilliantly harrowing — exaggerate that difference. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Fleeing Home, but Not Homophobia," 18 Nov. 2019 If the adventures of Charlie, Lucy, Snoopy, and the gang aren’t enough of a selling point for you, the music—composed by jazz legend Vince Guaraldi—is holly-jolly enough to get you in the holiday mood. Vogue, "17 of the Best Classic Christmas Movies," 8 Nov. 2019 The Foxes have quietly assembled one of the strongest teams in the league, and Brendan's men are giving their opposition a jolly Rodgering., "Assessing 6 of the Best Fantasy Football Wildcard Options After the First 8 Weeks," 9 Oct. 2019 PetSmart, the same company that brought you Halloween costumes for guinea pigs, has introduced a line of festive outfits for guinea pigs looking to get real jolly this holiday season. Kelli Bender,, "PetSmart's Holiday Guinea Pig Outfits Will Make Your Pet the Star of Any Ugly Sweater Party," 8 Nov. 2019 In the finale, Peled employed a fast tempo to jolly effect. cleveland, "CityMusic Cleveland flourishes on first program with new director Amit Peled," 21 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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

13 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Jolly.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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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