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[woo l-ee] /ˈwʊl i/
adjective, woolier, wooliest, noun, plural woolies.
Related forms
wooliness, noun


or wooly

[woo l-ee] /ˈwʊl i/
adjective, woollier, woolliest.
consisting of wool:
a woolly fleece.
resembling wool in texture or appearance:
woolly hair.
clothed or covered with wool or something resembling it:
a woolly caterpillar.
Botany. covered with a pubescence of long, soft hairs resembling wool.
like the rough, vigorous atmosphere of the early West in America:
wild and woolly.
fuzzy; unclear; disorganized:
woolly thinking.
noun, plural woollies.
Western U.S. a wool-bearing animal; sheep.
Usually, woollies. a knitted undergarment of wool or other fiber.
any woolen garment, as a sweater.
Dialect. a dust ball.
Origin of woolly
First recorded in 1580-90; wool + -y1
Related forms
woolliness, noun
Regional variation note
10. See dust ball. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wooly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In other words, we were wild and wooly, but sincerely didn't know it.

    The Killer Stewart Edward White
  • The name is from the Greek meaning "wooly knees," in allusion to the wooly joints of the stem.

  • Their combined percentage of frizzly and wooly is 69, which is nearly 20 per cent less than that of the Fijians.

  • They stood about gracefully to be admired, with their wooly hair fluffed out at right angles to their head, for the occasion.

    Six Women Victoria Cross
  • The wooly covering of common mullein, for example, is made up of innumerable slender-branched hairs.

    Through a Microscope Samuel Wells
  • They stole brass nails and small metal objects, hid them in their wooly and long hair, and then jumped overboard.

    The Golden Book of the Dutch Navigators Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • Her wooly hair was plaited into little tails which stuck out in all directions.

  • Slowly and hesitatingly the man raised his wooly head and with wildly rolling eyes gazed fearfully at the boys.

British Dictionary definitions for wooly


adjective woollier, woolliest (sometimes US) woolier, wooliest
consisting of, resembling, or having the nature of wool
covered or clothed in wool or something resembling it
lacking clarity or substance: woolly thinking
(botany) covered with long soft whitish hairs: woolly stems
(US) recalling the rough and lawless period of the early West of America (esp in the phrase wild and woolly)
noun (pl) woollies, (sometimes US) woolies
(often pl) a garment, such as a sweater, made of wool or something similar
(Western US & Austral) (usually pl) an informal word for sheep
Derived Forms
woollily, adverb
woolliness, noun
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 wooly

also woolly, 1570s, "resembling or made of wool," from wool + -y (2). Meaning "barbarous, rude" is recorded 1891, from wild and wooly (1884) applied to the U.S. western frontier, perhaps in reference to range steers or to unkempt cowboys.

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


Related Terms

wild and woolly

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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