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[gol-ee] /ˈgɒl i/
interjection, Informal.
(used as a mild exclamation expressing surprise, wonder, puzzlement, pleasure, or the like.)
Origin of golly
First recorded in 1840-50; euphemistic alteration of God Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for golly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • golly, it jest lifts you right up by your bootstraps to think of it, don't it?

  • By golly, if my country needs this like that, then by golly, my country's going to have it.

    Make Mine Homogenized Rick Raphael
  • George thought to himself that if the Commander had got in there, by golly, he could too.

    Test Pilot David Goodger (
  • By golly, he's callin' all his wife's relations t' come an' help 'em out.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • He just went ahead and did what he thought was right, and by golly, he was right.

    Famous Flyers David Goodger (
  • An' they know it, too, by golly, er they wouldn't hang back like they're a-doin'.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • golly, how I'd liked to have seen 'em looking out of that 'ere window like two foxes in a box trap.

    The Gold Brick Ann S. Stephens
  • "golly, it's only a couple of hundred feet," Magnan offered.

    The Yillian Way John Keith Laumer
British Dictionary definitions for golly


an exclamation of mild surprise or wonder
Word Origin
C19: originally a euphemism for God


noun (pl) -lies
(Brit, informal) short for golliwog


verb -lies, -lying, -lied
to spit
noun (pl) -lies
a gob of spit
Word Origin
C20: altered from gollion a gob of phlegm, probably of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for golly

euphemism for God, first recorded 1775, in a source that refers to it as "a sort of jolly kind of oath, or asseveration much in use among our carters, & the lowest people."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for golly



A mild exclamation of surprise, dismay, pleasure, etc; gosh: Golly, Mom, did you really win it?

[1775+; a euphemism for God]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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