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

c : trifling, frivolous

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

There are lots of scowls in these photos, but the best images are of musicians goofing off and just being silly. David Kirby, WSJ, "What to Give: Books on Music," 15 Nov. 2018 The old idea that space is reserved for stern-faced scientists and military pilots—and any other flight is silly—is an archaic, vanishing distinction. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "5 Things We Learned From SpaceX's Moon Tourist Announcement," 18 Sep. 2018 That's silly, of course, seeing as the company has launched Kylighters, eyeshadow palettes, blushes, concealers, and more—and is on track to be a billion dollar company by the time Jenner turns 21. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Stepped Out With Smaller Lips and She Looks Great," 23 July 2018 The pair were often seen together exchanging kisses, being silly, and laughing together at events like the 2017 ESPYS, 2017 French Tennis Open, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales premiere. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Olympian Lindsey Vonn Has Always Been Super Open About Her Dating Life," 23 July 2018 Eye of the Tiger Now that Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII won’t have a single-player campaign, those looking for some semblance of story are stuck with the silly Zombies mode, Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Star Citizen is sued by a backer, The Culling 2 is yanked from Steam and more," 20 July 2018 Miller, 58, has prodded and cajoled many of the country’s great athletes — numerous Hall of Famers among them — to be open to making themselves look silly on the golf course in the name of charity, competition and good fun. Tod Leonard,, "Through ups and downs, San Diego celebrity golf event celebrates 20 years," 17 May 2018 Deadpool was still a silly superhero movie, but the movie knew that. K. Austin Collins, HWD, "Review: Deadpool 2 Isn’t Nearly as Clever as It Thinks It Is," 15 May 2018 The goal of a good argument is not to attack enemies or to make opponents look silly. Walter Sinnott-armstrong, WSJ, "To Get Along Better, We Need Better Arguments," 12 July 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

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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).


amusing and light sparring with words

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