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

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 Many Capricorns feel that they are poorly represented in astrology and that the whole thing is silly, which is honestly just so Capricorn. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Online Dating Style," 6 July 2018 Encourage your child to talk about new endings to scary dreams that are silly, magical or empowering. Rachel Spector, Msw, miamiherald, "Here's how to chase away your child's scary dreams | Miami Herald," 25 May 2018 When the creative well runs dry, make silly noises on a boat and hope for the best. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Monsters go on vacation in 'Hotel Transylvania 3'," 12 July 2018 At game’s end, a torrent of yellow-colored confetti cascaded down from the rafters, which seemed a bit silly. Bruce Jenkins,, "Game 1 an overtime thriller for Warriors," 31 May 2018 The argument that teams shouldn’t reveal anything for their regular-season opponents in the spring game seems a bit silly. Aaron Reiss, kansascity, "Mizzou Monday: Stop the spring game? Basketball recruiting in STL and more | The Kansas City Star," 16 Apr. 2018 There’s a chance the team is angry Sisco decided to bunt with his team down by seven, but even that seems silly., "What they're saying about Chance Sisco's bunt against the shift in Orioles' 7-0 loss to Twins," 2 Apr. 2018 The name issue is one of the sillier disputes in a region hardly lacking them. The Economist, "The obstacles on Macedonia’s road to the EU," 28 June 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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Phrases Related to silly

wear a silly grin/smile on one's face

Statistics for silly

Last Updated

20 Sep 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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Comments on silly

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