- weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish: a silly writer.
- absurd; ridiculous; irrational: a silly idea.
- stunned; dazed: He knocked me silly.
- Cricket. (of a fielder or the fielder's playing position) extremely close to the batsman's wicket: silly mid off.
- Archaic. rustic; plain; homely.
- Archaic. weak; helpless.
- Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.
- Informal. a silly or foolish person: Don't be such a silly.
Origin of silly
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for silliness
Yesterday, I wrote about the silliness of requiring a file clerk to have a college degree.America’s New Mandarins
February 21, 2013
People are hurting, people died, and the time for silliness, debate, and procedural motions is over.Jim McGreevey Says He’s Given Up Politics, Embraced a Simpler Life
January 18, 2013
Never mind that Bill Clinton remains living proof of the silliness of modern puritanism.Exclusive: Paula Broadwell’s Emails Revealed
November 12, 2012
I could provide chapter and verse as to the silliness of energy independence.Both Candidates Push Myth of Energy Independence
November 1, 2012
“I think the silliness is part of the phenomenon,” Sokoloff tells The Daily Beast.‘Sherlock’ Star Benedict Cumberbatch’s Polarizing ‘Cumberbitches’
October 25, 2012
The silliness of a thing doesn't matter if it makes you laugh.The Foolish Lovers
St. John G. Ervine
Well, well, youth's the season for silliness, but there's bounds—there's bounds.The Incomplete Amorist
She's kind-hearted and that makes her put up with Rachel's silliness.
Used to call it silliness and a waste of time, I did—worse names than that, generally.
The silliness of the situation burned her sense of the incongruous.Melomaniacs
- lacking in good sense; absurd
- frivolous, trivial, or superficial
- dazed, as from a blow
- obsolete homely or humble
- (modifier) cricket (of a fielding position) near the batsman's wicketsilly mid-on
- Also called: silly-billy plural -lies informal a foolish person
Word Origin and History for silliness
Old English gesælig "happy, fortuitous, prosperous" (related to sæl "happiness"), from Proto-Germanic *sæligas (cf. Old Norse sæll "happy," Old Saxon salig, Middle Dutch salich, Old High German salig, German selig "blessed, happy, blissful," Gothic sels "good, kindhearted"), from PIE *sele- "of good mood; to favor," from root *sel- (2) "happy, of good mood; to favor" (cf. Latin solari "to comfort," Greek hilaros "cheerful, gay, merry, joyous").
This is one of the few instances in which an original long e (ee) has become shortened to i. The same change occurs in breeches, and in the American pronunciation of been, with no change in spelling. [Century Dictionary]
The word's considerable sense development moved from "happy" to "blessed" to "pious," to "innocent" (c.1200), to "harmless," to "pitiable" (late 13c.), "weak" (c.1300), to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish" (1570s). Further tendency toward "stunned, dazed as by a blow" (1886) in knocked silly, etc. Silly season in journalism slang is from 1861 (August and September, when newspapers compensate for a lack of hard news by filling up with trivial stories). Silly Putty trademark claims use from July 1949.