sil·​ly | \ ˈsi-lē How to pronounce silly (audio) \
sillier; silliest

Definition of silly

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : exhibiting or indicative of a lack of common sense or sound judgment a very silly mistake
b : weak in intellect acting like a silly fool
c : playfully lighthearted and amusing a silly sense of humor
d : trifling, frivolous a silly waste of time
2 : being stunned or dazed scared silly knocked me silly
3a archaic : rustic, plain The silly buckets on the deck,/That had so long remained,/I dreamt that they were filled with dew;/And when I awoke, it rained.— Samuel Taylor Coleridge
b obsolete : lowly in station : humble
4 archaic : helpless, weak



Definition of silly (Entry 2 of 3)

1 informal : to an extreme degree was scared silly bored silly
2 : 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


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

Other Words from silly


sillily \ ˈsi-​lə-​lē How to pronounce silly (audio) \ adverb
silliness \ ˈsi-​lē-​nəs How to pronounce silly (audio) \ 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

Adjective 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective TikTok exploded as a social-media app with silly videos featuring lip-syncing, dance moves and practical jokes. Liza Lin, WSJ, 9 Mar. 2022 Content spanning everything from swimsuit photos in tropical locales to silly lip-sync videos ensures her an audience that extends far beyond Bears fans. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Nov. 2021 Feldstein’s Fanny is a wide-eyed woman-child, at turns stubborn, awkward and silly. Frank Rizzo, Variety, 24 Apr. 2022 At the same time, the show’s silly and sweet aura has been dinged by scandals. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 20 Apr. 2022 In Hollywood’s most original sci-fi multiverse to date, practically every scene is filled with details epic and silly. Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2022 The film grows increasingly far-fetched and silly as the squad attempts to pull off a coup on a brutal tyrant. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 7 Apr. 2022 The ridiculous and silly energy came through on screen. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 25 Mar. 2022 In the decades following Robin's debut, Batman's world became increasingly playful and silly, reaching its height of camp in the mid-'60s when the Adam West Batman TV show aired. Oliver Sava,, 8 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of silly


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1731, in the meaning defined at sense 2


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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Time Traveler for silly

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near silly



silly Billy

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Silly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for silly


sil·​ly | \ ˈsi-lē How to pronounce silly (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on silly

Nglish: Translation of silly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of silly for Arabic Speakers


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