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noun, plural kel·lies, kel·lys. Slang.
  1. a man's stiff hat, as a derby or straw skimmer.

Origin of kelly

First recorded in 1910–15; generic use of surname Kelly, taken as representative of a stage Irishman wearing such a derby


  1. Ellsworth,born 1923, U.S. painter and sculptor.
  2. Emmett (Leo),1898–1979, U.S. circus clown and pantomimist.
  3. Eugene Cur·ran [kur-uh n, kuhr-] /ˈkɜr ən, ˈkʌr-/, Gene, 1912–96, U.S. dancer, choreographer, actor, and director.
  4. George (Edward),1887–1974, U.S. playwright and actor.
  5. Grace PatriciaPrincess Grace of Monaco, 1929–82, U.S. actress: married Prince Rainier III of Monaco 1956.
  6. Walt,1913–73, U.S. cartoonist.
  7. Also Kel·lie. a male or female given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for kelly

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The office of Bolton & Kelly has been the school of many prominent lawyers.

  • Pee-wee wondered who Kelly was and where his barn was located.

    Pee-wee Harris

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • Then he gave Kelly a moderately truthful account of what had occurred.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

  • He had never given Kelly a hint, and no one else could have told him.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

  • Kelly, himself, had arrived in England with nothing, an unknown man.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

British Dictionary definitions for kelly


  1. Gene, full name Eugene Curran Kelly. 1912–96, US dancer, choreographer, film actor, and director. His many films include An American in Paris (1951) and Singin' in the Rain (1952)
  2. Grace. 1929–82, US film actress. Her films included High Noon (1952) and High Society (1956). She married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 and died following a car crash
  3. Ned. 1855–80, Australian horse and cattle thief and bushranger, active in Victoria: captured by the police and hanged
  4. game as Ned Kelly or as game as Ned Kelly See game 1 (def. 25)
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

Word Origin and History for kelly


common Irish surname, from Old Irish ceallach "war." As a type of pool played with 15 balls, it is attested from 1898. Kelly green first recorded 1917.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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