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adjective, jol·li·er, jol·li·est.
  1. in good spirits; lively; merry: In a moment he was as jolly as ever.
  2. cheerfully festive or convivial: a jolly party.
  3. joyous; happy: Christmas is a jolly season.
  4. Chiefly British Informal. delightful; charming.
  5. British.
    1. Informal.great; thorough: a jolly blunderer.
    2. Slang.slightly drunk; tipsy.
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verb (used with object), jol·lied, jol·ly·ing.
  1. Informal. to talk or act agreeably to (a person) in order to keep that person in good humor, especially in the hope of gaining something (usually followed by along): They jollied him along until the job was done.
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verb (used without object), jol·lied, jol·ly·ing.
  1. Informal. to jolly a person; josh; kid.
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noun, plural jol·lies.
  1. Informal. the practice or an instance of jollying a person.
  2. Usually jollies. Informal. pleasurable excitement, especially from or as if from something forbidden or improper; thrills; kicks: He gets his jollies from watching horror movies.
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  1. British Informal. extremely; very: He'll jolly well do as he's told.
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Origin of jolly

1275–1325; Middle English joli, jolif < Old French, equivalent to jol- (probably < Old Norse jōl yule) + -if -ive
Related formsjol·li·ly, adverbjol·li·ness, nounun·jol·ly, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

ecstasy, rapture, joy, glee, euphoria, excitement, jubilation, exhilaration, bliss, enthusiasm, banter, quip, laugh, joke, bother, tease, pretend, delude, press, pressure

Examples from the Web for jollies

Historical Examples

  • Dick gets kinder peeved with her sometimes when she jollies him.

    Walter and the Wireless

    Sara Ware Bassett

  • The same as the Jollies—'er Majesty's Jollies—soldier an' sailor too.

  • We sent for the Jollies—'er Majesty's Jollies—soldier an' sailor too!

  • And they done it, the Jollies—'er Majesty's Jollies—soldier an' sailor too.

  • I saw three or four of our jollies—as we called the marines—drop while firing away from the forecastle.

    Will Weatherhelm

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for jollies


adjective -lier or -liest
  1. full of good humour; jovial
  2. having or provoking gaiety and merrymaking; festive
  3. greatly enjoyable; pleasing
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  1. British (intensifier)you're jolly nice
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verb -lies, -lying or -lied (tr) informal
  1. (often foll by up or along) to try to make or keep (someone) cheerful
  2. to make goodnatured fun of
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  1. informal, mainly British a festivity or celebration
  2. informal, mainly British a trip, esp one made for pleasure by a public official or committee at public expense
  3. British slang a Royal Marine
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Derived Formsjolliness, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French jolif, probably from Old Norse jōl yule
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 jollies



c.1300 (late 13c. as a surname), from Old French jolif "festive, merry, amorous, pretty" (12c.) of uncertain origin (cf. Italian giulivo "merry, pleasant").

Perhaps a Germanic loan-word from a source akin to Old Norse jol "a winter feast" (see yule), or from Latin gaudere "to rejoice," from PIE *gau- "to rejoice" (see joy). For loss of -f, cf. tardy, hasty. Related: Jollily; jolliness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper