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[pol-ee-an-uh] /ˌpɒl iˈæn ə/
an excessively or blindly optimistic person.
(often lowercase). Also, Pollyannaish. unreasonably or illogically optimistic:
some pollyanna notions about world peace.
Origin of Pollyanna
from the name of the child heroine created by Eleanor Porter (1868-1920), American writer
Related forms
Pollyannaism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Pollyanna
Historical Examples
  • "Pollyanna" gives a better appreciation of people and the world.

    The Ghost Breaker Paul Dickey
  • He looked like Pollyanna, after eight or ten shots at the middleweight title.

    Occasion for Disaster Gordon Randall Garrett
  • All this Pollyanna frou-frou is all right as frosting—but you've left out the cake!

    Telempathy Vance Simonds
  • Pollyanna died and, of course, she was glad and went to Heaven.

    Seeing Things at Night Heywood Broun
  • It is a fine thing to read a story like Pollyanna and get all excited over it.

    The Children's Six Minutes Bruce S. Wright
  • My niece, Miss Pollyanna Whittier, is coming to live with me.

    Pollyanna Eleanor H. Porter
  • Over and over again she was wondering just what sort of child this Pollyanna was, anyway.

    Pollyanna Eleanor H. Porter
  • Pollyanna, be good enough, please, to stand erect in a proper manner.

    Pollyanna Eleanor H. Porter
  • Pollyanna drew back at once, laughing a little hysterically.

    Pollyanna Eleanor H. Porter
  • Without speaking, Pollyanna turned and followed her aunt from the room.

    Pollyanna Eleanor H. Porter
British Dictionary definitions for Pollyanna


a person who is constantly or excessively optimistic
Derived Forms
Pollyannaish, adjective
Word Origin
C20: after the chief character in Pollyanna (1913), a novel by Eleanor Porter (1868–1920), US writer
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 Pollyanna

"one who finds cause for gladness in the most difficult situations," 1921, a reference to Pollyanna Whittier, child heroine of U.S. novelist Eleanor Hodgman Porter's "Pollyanna" (1913) and "Pollyanna Grows Up" (1915), who was noted for keeping her chin up during disasters.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Pollyanna in Culture

Pollyanna definition

(1913) A children's book by the American author Eleanor H. Porter. The title character is an orphan girl who, despite the difficulties of her life, is always extremely cheerful.

Note: A “Pollyanna” remains excessively sweet-tempered and optimistic even in adversity.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for Pollyanna



An irrepressibly cheery person; undaunted optimist: or were we all a crowd of Pollyannas?

[1913+; fr the title and heroine of a novel by Eleanor Hodgman Porter, 1868–1920]

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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