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 The event is an annual tradition of jolly merriment, culinary delights, theatrical excellence and exquisite music. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "College Corner Medina County," 31 Oct. 2019 Cherney, who worked out of The Village Studios in Los Angeles, was known for his quick-witted, jolly manner. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Ed Cherney, Grammy-Winning Engineer for Bonnie Raitt & The Rolling Stones, Dies at 69," 22 Oct. 2019 In the same spirit, perhaps, O’Brien has seldom mentioned the period, in the fifties, when her writing focussed on jolly verse. Ian Parker, The New Yorker, "Edna O’Brien Is Still Writing About Women on the Run," 7 Oct. 2019 Messi is not the only Barça star who has a jolly old time against their upcoming opponents, as new signing Antoine Griezmann also tends to have a field-day against Julen Lopetegui's men., "Barcelona vs Sevilla: 8 Key Facts & Stats to Impress Your Mates Ahead of La Liga Clash," 6 Oct. 2019 The humming motor of the Newport production is Brenda Kenworthy as Lotty, the jolly instigator of the project. Daily Pilot, "On Theater: An “Enchanted” comedy in Newport," 24 Sep. 2019 Gray throws in a Road Warrior–style moon battle and an attack of a rabid space monkey to jolly things along, but his heart isn’t in either of these scenes, which come from nowhere and lead nowhere. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Brad Pitt’s Egotism Is Hurting His Movies," 18 Sep. 2019 Stick arms, a basket hat, and a Halloween sign complete the picture with jolly flair. Megan Fulweiler, Woman's Day, "Snowman Pumpkin," 5 Sep. 2019 Orr sings, and a creepy, jolly synth invites us to wonder why. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, "Ric Ocasek’s Eternal Cool," 16 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb 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 Why is everyone in Golden in such a jolly good mood? Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: In marvel of Mines engineering, 230-pound linebacker runs like Usain Bolt in 42-0 victory against Fort Lewis," 19 Oct. 2019 Super jolly and super chatty is a no-go; sensitivity rules. Pamela Wright,, "The Whitney is a former nurses’ dorm, transformed with care," 20 Aug. 2019 For a while Hongyadong—a jolly enough place but hitherto on few people’s bucket lists—became the biggest attraction in China after the Forbidden City, says Mafengwo, a travel website. The Economist, "For some in China, the aim of travel is to create 15-second videos," 15 Aug. 2019 Santa Claus, that jolly old elf, will be making appearances at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not attraction on International Drive in Orlando this week. Dewayne Bevil,, "Believe it: Santa Claus visits Ripley’s this week," 23 July 2019 After Disney released its first round of movie posters for the new live-action Lion King remake, fans felt betrayed by the jarringly aggressive depiction of the once jolly Pumbaa. Morgan Baila,, "Beyoncé's Nala Voice In The New Lion King Trailer Is Truly Mesmerising," 4 June 2019 Of course, not everything in this episode appears to be holly and jolly, as a previous trailer teased a special appearance from Santa... and Satan. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Christmas Movies on Netflix You Can Stream During the Holidays," 19 Dec. 2018 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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Statistics for jolly

Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for jolly

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

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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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