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 Hoffman, who died in 2014, was credible as smart or dumb people, as self-aware or obtuse, as powerful or weak, jolly or sad, brave or cowardly, bold or meek, quiet or loud. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "7 of the finest film performances by the gifted, prolific Philip Seymour Hoffman," 31 Mar. 2021 When Celia goes home to her dull husband, we’ve been primed to look beneath his jolly, bustling façade to see the beating emotional life in him as well. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History," 22 Feb. 2021 But did those incoming jolly revelers leave the state with record COVID-19 increases? Cole Lauterbach, Washington Examiner, "Locked down Californians flooded Arizona over holiday, few quarantined," 8 Jan. 2021 Christmas parades were canceled, but that didn't stop the Lacombe Fire Department from escorting the jolly couple in red through Madisonville to the cheers of excited children., "A socially distanced holiday was still a holiday, all the same," 28 Dec. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb But Sorkin reserves his harshest opprobrium for the transgressors on his own team, like jolly old Philip Johnson. Hugo Lindgren, Curbed, "Michael Sorkin Taught Me How to Look at New York," 22 Mar. 2021 Gather round, wicked children (or curious adults), for the tale of Krampus, the European Christmas demon who's definitely not as holly jolly as old Saint Nick. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for December 7: Coronavirus, White House transition, marijuana, Venezuela, India," 7 Dec. 2020 Spurrier was the kind of jolly fellow who made wine tantalizing and never off-putting. John Mariani, Forbes, "Steven Spurrier, International Wine Legend, Dies At 79," 9 Mar. 2021 Michael Contreras had just laid his 8-month-old son, Ethan, down to sleep on the oncology ward of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on Christmas Eve when a jolly red stranger appeared in the room. Los Angeles Times, "L.A.'s children’s hospitals welcome Santa, with a Zoom link to the North Pole and a mask under his beard," 25 Dec. 2020 Children around the world can expect their favorite, jolly friend to visit them this Christmas Eve as Santa is immune to the coronavirus. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "Christmas Eve is Dr. Fauci's 80th birthday. Here's how he's celebrating during the COVID pandemic.," 24 Dec. 2020 As part of Neiman Marcus’ curbside Santa experience, the jolly one made a visit to the boys in November. Tony Bravo,, "Curbside Santa a new pandemic norm as parents try to keep the season’s magic alive," 10 Dec. 2020 As usual, the parade featured an event that gave children the chance to sit on a jolly Santa's lap for a photo. Joshua Bote, USA TODAY, "Nearly 50 Georgia kids may have been exposed to COVID-19 after photo op with Santa," 16 Dec. 2020 Across the country, families are finding the normally jolly holiday season feels anywhere from boring to a bummer, with parties, large shared meals, travel and busy religious services off the table because of coronavirus risks. Washington Post, "Covid Christmas: Managing kids’ expectations without turning into the Grinch," 2 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

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jolly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for jolly



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

Nglish: Translation of jolly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of jolly for Arabic Speakers

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