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 And each week, Trinity shows you why that's a silly thought, despite its 5-7 record coming into tonight's game. J.l. Kirven, The Courier-Journal, 20 Nov. 2021 These innovations underpinned a bright, colorful, sometimes silly sci-fi world, populated by corny aliens and ancient evils, elevated by the game’s soundtrack—a rousing blend of string orchestra and Gregorian chant—and the Master Chief. Will Bedingfield, Wired, 19 Nov. 2021 Your characters do some pretty scandalous and silly things., 18 Nov. 2021 People would just laugh themselves silly those days. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, 18 Nov. 2021 That led to a silly moment later, when Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., rose to speak. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 18 Nov. 2021 Such grandiose pretensions have come to sound a little silly, but the pageantry persists. Jacob Stern, The Atlantic, 18 Nov. 2021 On Monday, Brittany Matthews shared a silly video to her Instagram Story of her 8-month-old daughter Sterling Skye feeding her food to their pet dog Silver instead of eating it herself. Georgia Slater,, 16 Nov. 2021 What bothers me is how some of these men would focus on my more salacious content—the silly tweets about cunnilingus or the outrageous fantasies about celebrities—and think that is all there is to me. Nichole Perkins, Harper's BAZAAR, 15 Nov. 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About silly

Time Traveler for silly

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near silly



silly Billy

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for silly

Last Updated

21 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Silly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for silly



English Language Learners Definition of silly

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having or showing a lack of thought, understanding, or good judgment : foolish or stupid
: not practical or sensible
: not serious, meaningful, or important



English Language Learners Definition of silly (Entry 2 of 3)

: to an extreme degree



English Language Learners Definition of silly (Entry 3 of 3)

used to address someone who is being 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


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!