adjective sil·ly \ ˈsi-lē \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

Definition of silly

sillier; silliest
1 archaic : helpless, weak
2 a : rustic, plain
b obsolete : lowly in station : humble
3 a : 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


play \ˈsi-lə-lē\ adverb


play \ˈsi-lē-nəs\ noun

Examples of silly in a Sentence

  1. I hope I didn't make any silly mistakes.

  2. The idea does seem a bit silly.

  3. That's the silliest thing I've ever heard.

  4. You drove in this weather? What a silly thing to do!

  5. Silly me. I locked myself out of the car again.

  6. Ask a silly question, and you get a silly answer.

  7. “I can't ask you to do that.” “Don't be silly. It is my pleasure.”

  8. What a silly little purse. It looks too small to hold everything that I'd need to carry.

  9. I'm tired of watching silly movies.

  10. The book was a silly waste of time.

Recent Examples of silly from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of silly

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

Synonym Discussion of 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




Definition of silly

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

First Known Use of silly


in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Definition of silly

plural sillies
: 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

First Known Use of silly


in the meaning defined above

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SILLY Defined for Kids


adjective sil·ly \ ˈsi-lē \

Definition of silly for Students

sillier; silliest
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



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