interjection Informal.

(used as a mild exclamation expressing surprise, wonder, puzzlement, pleasure, or the like.)

Origin of golly

First recorded in 1840–50; euphemistic alteration of God
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for golly

Contemporary Examples of golly

  • He was humble and patient, an earnest man simply trying, by golly, to do his level best for others.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Rahm's Rose Garden Strategy

    Dirk Johnson

    December 23, 2010

  • And right now, by golly, Sarah Palin is out there selling herself.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Sarah Drops the Act

    Tina Brown

    November 18, 2009

Historical Examples of golly

  • By golly, we'll stake her to a hay knife and tell her to go after him!

  • By golly, he's callin' all his wife's relations t' come an' help 'em out.

  • An' they know it, too, by golly, er they wouldn't hang back like they're a-doin'.

  • Golly, I want to be a Thorgunner and get in on the mop-up when it comes!

    Be It Ever Thus

    Robert Moore Williams

  • The doctor drew a deep breath and then said, "By golly, I believe you've got it."

British Dictionary definitions for golly




an exclamation of mild surprise or wonder

Word Origin for golly

C19: originally a euphemism for God



noun plural -lies

British informal short for golliwog



verb -lies, -lying or -lied

to spit

noun plural -lies

a gob of spit

Word Origin for golly

C20: altered from gollion a gob of phlegm, probably of imitative origin
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 golly

euphemism for God, first recorded 1775, in a source that refers to it as "a sort of jolly kind of oath, or asseveration much in use among our carters, & the lowest people."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper