English holly

holly

[hol-ee]
noun, plural hol·lies.
  1. any of numerous trees or shrubs of the genus Ilex, as I. opaca (American holly), the state tree of Delaware, or I. aquifolium (English holly), having glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries.
  2. the foliage and berries, used for decoration, especially during the Christmas season.

Origin of holly

before 1150; Middle English holi(e), holyn, Old English hole(g)n; cognate with Welsh celyn, Irish cuillean; akin to Dutch, German hulst, French houx (< Old High German hulis)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for english holly

Holly

noun
  1. Buddy. real name Charles Harden Holley. 1936–59, US rock-and-roll singer, guitarist, and songwriter. His hits (all 1956–59) include "That'll be the Day", "Maybe Baby", "Peggy Sue", "Oh, Boy", "Think It Over", and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore"

holly

noun plural -lies
  1. any tree or shrub of the genus Ilex, such as the Eurasian I. aquifolium, having bright red berries and shiny evergreen leaves with prickly edges
  2. branches of any of these trees, used for Christmas decorations
  3. holly oak another name for holm oak
See also sea holly

Word Origin for holly

Old English holegn; related to Old Norse hulfr, Old High German hulis, German Hulst, Old Slavonic kolja prick
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 english holly

holly

n.

mid-15c., earlier holin (mid-12c.), shortening of Old English holegn "holly," from Proto-Germanic *hulin- (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German hulis, Old Norse hulfr, Middle Dutch huls, Dutch, German hulst "holly"), cognate with Middle Irish cuilenn, Welsh celyn, Gaelic cuilionn "holly," probably all from PIE root *kel- "to prick" (cf. Old Church Slavonic kolja "to prick," Russian kolos "ear of corn"), in reference to its leaves. French houx "holly" is from Frankish *huls or some other Germanic source.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper