sil·​ly | \ ˈsi-lē \
sillier; silliest

Definition of silly

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 archaic : helpless, weak
2a : rustic, plain
b obsolete : lowly in station : humble
3a : weak in intellect : foolish
b : exhibiting or indicative of a lack of common sense or sound judgment a very silly mistake
4 : being stunned or dazed scared silly knocked me silly



Definition of silly (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in a silly manner : in an absurd or ridiculous way talking/behaving silly Benny Hill just walked silly, period, usually at high speed, to the accompaniment of cheesy pop music … .— Charles Isherwood
2 informal : to an extreme degree was scared silly bored silly


plural sillies

Definition of silly (Entry 3 of 3)

: one who is silly : a foolish person "But there," she told herself, "I am very likely a silly—meeting trouble half-way."— D. H. Lawrence "Well then, silly, why not stay!"— Edna Ferber "And who, then? Oh, the long line of sillies, light-weights, rakes, ne'er-do-wells, who … constituted society."— Theodore Dreiser When the narrator describes women directly they seem … innately either sentimental sillies … or … pious hypocrites.— Myra Jehlen

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Other Words from silly


sillily \ ˈsi-​lə-​lē \ adverb
silliness \ ˈsi-​lē-​nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for silly


simple, foolish, silly, fatuous, asinine mean actually or apparently deficient in intelligence. simple implies a degree of intelligence inadequate to cope with anything complex or involving mental effort. considered people simple who had trouble with computers foolish implies the character of being or seeming unable to use judgment, discretion, or good sense. foolish stunts silly suggests failure to act as a rational being especially by ridiculous behavior. the silly antics of revelers fatuous implies foolishness, inanity, and disregard of reality. fatuous conspiracy theories asinine suggests utter and contemptible failure to use normal rationality or perception. an asinine plot

Examples of silly in a Sentence


I hope I didn't make any silly mistakes. The idea does seem a bit silly. That's the silliest thing I've ever heard. You drove in this weather? What a silly thing to do! Silly me. I locked myself out of the car again. Ask a silly question, and you get a silly answer. “I can't ask you to do that.” “Don't be silly. It is my pleasure.” What a silly little purse. It looks too small to hold everything that I'd need to carry. I'm tired of watching silly movies. The book was a silly waste of time.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Though silly and fun, KSP also works as a reasonably solid and wonderfully interactive demonstration of the vagaries of orbital mechanics—and that, dear readers, gave us an idea. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Video: Astronaut Scott Kelly teaches orbital mechanics with Kerbal Space Program," 28 Dec. 2018 Blunt nails every scene and trapezes between silly and serious with charismatic ease. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda Make Dreams Come True at a Special Screening of Mary Poppins Returns," 18 Dec. 2018 Historically, white actors appeared in early Hollywood films and stage plays wearing brown or black theatrical makeup to perform as silly and exaggerated caricatures of black people. Amira Rasool, Teen Vogue, "Some White Influencers Are Being Accused of "Blackfishing," or Using Makeup to Appear Black," 16 Nov. 2018 Riley just spins the idea out into a surreal cinematic reality that’s simultaneously silly and nightmarish. Katie Walsh, kansascity, "‘Sorry to Bother You’ skewers corporate and cultural corruption," 12 July 2018 Christopher Buckley’s The Judge Hunter is simultaneously silly and informative, a delightful romp through colonial America. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Tech's Leaders Should Heed Employee Outrage With Prudent Response," 9 July 2018 In a video shared by a fan Instagram page dedicated to the 32-year-old actress, the couple’s exchanging of vows gets both silly and sentimental. Stephanie Petit,, "Watch Kaley Cuoco and Karl Cook Deliver Emotional and Hilarious Wedding Vows in Touching Video," 1 July 2018 Jenner made the major declaration in a short video, which is incredibly dramatic and silly and overall perfect. Amanda Arnold, The Cut, "Kris Jenner Took Over Kylie Cosmetics and Dropped a Huge Announcement," 8 May 2018 Despite all of these question marks, there’s good reason to believe that this December moment of doubt will prove as silly as all of the September ones. WSJ, "How the Grinch Stole the Patriots’ December Invincibility," 17 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'silly.' 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 silly


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1560, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for silly


Middle English sely, silly happy, innocent, pitiable, feeble, from Old English sǣlig, from sǣl happiness; akin to Old High German sālig happy

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Statistics for silly

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for silly

The first known use of silly was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for silly


sil·​ly | \ ˈsi-lē \
sillier; silliest

Kids Definition of silly

1 : having or showing a lack of common sense : foolish Silly me! I forgot again. What a silly mistake!
2 : not serious or important a silly reason
3 : playful and lighthearted silly jokes

Other Words from silly

silliness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on silly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with silly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for silly

Spanish Central: Translation of silly

Nglish: Translation of silly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of silly for Arabic Speakers

Comments on silly

What made you want to look up silly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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