jol·​ly | \ ˈjä-lē How to pronounce jolly (audio) \
jollier; jolliest

Definition of jolly

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a(1) : full of high spirits : joyous think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly— A. E. Housman
(2) : given to conviviality : jovial a jolly companion
b : expressing, suggesting, or inspiring lively happiness and good cheer : cheerful jolly laughter
2 : extremely pleasant or agreeable : splendid had a jolly time



Definition of jolly (Entry 2 of 4)

: very would … do as they were jolly well told— John Stockbridge


plural jollies

Definition of jolly (Entry 3 of 4)

1 chiefly British : a good time : jollification
2 jollies plural : kicks get their jollies by reenacting famous murders— H. F. Waters


jollied; jollying

Definition of jolly (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

: to engage in good-natured banter jollied and joked with sailors in the street— Dixon Wecter

transitive verb

: to put or try to put in good humor especially to gain an end try to pay for their entertainment by jollying us along— S. E. White

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Choose the Right Synonym for jolly


merry, blithe, jocund, jovial, jolly mean showing high spirits or lightheartedness. merry suggests cheerful, joyous, uninhibited enjoyment of frolic or festivity. a merry group of revelers blithe suggests carefree, innocent, or even heedless gaiety. arrived late in his usual blithe way jocund stresses elation and exhilaration of spirits. singing, dancing, and jocund feasting jovial suggests the stimulation of conviviality and good fellowship. dinner put them in a jovial mood jolly suggests high spirits expressed in laughing, bantering, and jesting. our jolly host enlivened the party

Examples of jolly in a Sentence

Adjective Our boss was a very jolly man, always laughing. She had a jolly time at the party. Adverb “I've finished my assignment.” “Jolly good!” She learned to be jolly careful in his presence. Verb spent their nights around the campfire good-naturedly jollying and telling scary stories
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Or maybe that’s just my jolly journalist’s view of his recent venture into what sounded eyelash-close to an endorsement of Democratic icon Stacey Abrams to replace Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Clarence Page,, 1 Oct. 2021 Stay tuned as Hallmark continues to announce more holly jolly flicks. Chaise Sanders, Country Living, 24 Sep. 2021 The atmosphere of his childhood home, with his jolly but feckless miner father, his refined, long-suffering, son-smothering mother, infused his novels, poems, plays, and stories, and numerous biographies. Lara Feigel, The New Republic, 1 Sep. 2021 The dad, a jolly type and freehanded with his affection, had slipped into Prune one night, on the late side, with his gal. New York Times, 21 July 2021 The crocodiles snapped at each other in a jolly way. Hermione Hoby, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 Hoffman, who died in 2014, was credible as smart or dumb people, as self-aware or obtuse, as powerful or weak, jolly or sad, brave or cowardly, bold or meek, quiet or loud. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, 31 Mar. 2021 When Celia goes home to her dull husband, we’ve been primed to look beneath his jolly, bustling façade to see the beating emotional life in him as well. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 22 Feb. 2021 But did those incoming jolly revelers leave the state with record COVID-19 increases? Cole Lauterbach, Washington Examiner, 8 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Dobrik posted a new video Tuesday, reprising his role as a jolly YouTube prankster and promising new uploads every week. Aida Ylanan, Los Angeles Times, 17 June 2021 There is little doubt that Boris Johnson will play a jolly, hearty host for this week clubby Group of Seven meeting at a seaside resort in Cornwall, England, telling colorful tales, quoting his bits of Latin, ensuring wine glasses are topped up. Washington Post, 9 June 2021 Zero + Maria Cornejo makes a French terry take on the lounge suit, while Maisie Willen and Nina Ricci both offer soft, jolly separates that render terry cloth almost tailored. Sadie Stein, WSJ, 7 May 2021 James Gunn shared a little holly-jolly cheer on Thursday, posting an update on the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special. Devan Coggan,, 22 Apr. 2021 Having to stay away from nursing homes makes that big, jolly heart of his hurt. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, 6 Apr. 2021 Dress up your Mason jars like jolly little gnomes to deliver the sweet gift of Christmas cookies. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Sep. 2021 The menu at Sippin' Santa is a little shorter but no less jolly. Tirion Morris, The Arizona Republic, 14 Aug. 2021 The jolly green singer was eliminated during a special Thanksgiving Day episode. Andrea Towers,, 12 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Audiences began to take notice of this less-than-jolly movie that flooded the airways at Christmas time, and thus a holiday tradition was born. Rachael Scott, CNN, 19 Dec. 2020 But the home secretary’s outing, on August 10th, was hardly a jolly. The Economist, 15 Aug. 2020 Tickets already were on sale for Christmas Village, a holly-jolly tradition that typically takes place in late October and early November at the BJCC Exhibition Halls. Mary Colurso |, al, 12 Aug. 2020 The Christmas jollies may quickly fade when drivers head home, as traffic jams are expected to be the worst the day after Christmas. Mola Lenghi, CBS News, 20 Dec. 2019 People who get their jollies by crushing helpless animals underfoot would be a perfect place to begin. Ted Diadiun, cleveland, 6 Dec. 2019 More troublesome are the timefall phenomena that accompany the BTs, and the human enemies who get their jollies from stealing and hoarding cargo. Evan Lewis,, 1 Nov. 2019 The drinks - from fine rose to Pimm's - flow freely and are served by attentive male waiters, most akin to models in their looks, while a band jollies along in the background. Matt Majendie, CNN, 26 June 2019 The rich customers came off as ruthless one-percenters, getting their jollies by shooting cowboys and raping women. Kristi Turnquist,, 20 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As to the political will needed to jolly the process along, and arrange payment for those parts of the programme that will not pay for themselves, this can push both ways. The Economist, 21 Sep. 2019 So Watt sets out to convince them that the real killer is Peter Manuel by — wait for it! — taking him out on a bender and jollying him into a confession. Marilyn Stasio, New York Times, 19 May 2017

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1549, in the meaning defined above


1905, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1610, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for jolly

Adjective, Adverb, Noun, and Verb

Middle English joli, from Anglo-French jolif, from jol-, probably from Old Norse jōl midwinter festival — more at yule

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Time Traveler for jolly

Time Traveler

The first known use of jolly was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near jolly



Jolly balance

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Last Updated

4 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jolly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for jolly



English Language Learners Definition of jolly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: full of happiness and joy : happy and cheerful
: very pleasant or enjoyable



English Language Learners Definition of jolly (Entry 2 of 2)

: very or extremely


jol·​ly | \ ˈjä-lē How to pronounce jolly (audio) \
jollier; jolliest

Kids Definition of jolly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: full of fun or joy



Kids Definition of jolly (Entry 2 of 2)

: very entry 1 sense 1 We had a jolly good time.

More from Merriam-Webster on jolly

Nglish: Translation of jolly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of jolly for Arabic Speakers


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