adjective, mer·ri·er, mer·ri·est.

full of cheerfulness or gaiety; joyous in disposition or spirit: a merry little man.
laughingly happy; mirthful; festively joyous; hilarious: a merry time at the party.
Archaic. causing happiness; pleasant; delightful.


    make merry,
    1. to be happy or festive: The New Year's revelers were making merry in the ballroom.
    2. to make fun of; ridicule: The unthinking children made merry of the boy who had no shoes.

Origin of merry

before 900; Middle English meri(e), myrie, murie, Old English myr(i)ge, mer(i)ge pleasant, delightful
Related formsmer·ri·ly, adverbmer·ri·ness, nouno·ver·mer·ri·ly, adverbo·ver·mer·ri·ness, nouno·ver·mer·ry, adjectiveun·mer·ri·ly, adverbun·mer·ry, adjective
Can be confusedmarry Mary merry

Synonyms for merry

Antonyms for merry

1. sad. 2. solemn. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for merrier

Contemporary Examples of merrier

Historical Examples of merrier

  • Yet all the while, Taffy seemed happier and the women the merrier.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • Toby was quite a new visitor, and, well––the more the merrier.

  • A merrier set of gentlemen not even my experience had ever beheld.

    Arthur O'Leary

    Charles James Lever

  • Three happier, merrier girls could not have been found the world over.


    Jane Abbott

  • "The merrier the heart the longer the life," says Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy.

    The English Spy

    Bernard Blackmantle

British Dictionary definitions for merrier


adjective -rier or -riest

cheerful; jolly
very funny; hilarious
British informal slightly drunk
archaic delightful
make merry to revel; be festive
play merry hell with informal to disturb greatly; disrupt
Derived Formsmerrily, adverbmerriness, noun

Word Origin for merry

Old English merige agreeable
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 merrier



Old English myrge "pleasing, agreeable, pleasant, sweet; pleasantly, melodiously," from Proto-Germanic *murgijaz, which probably originally meant "short-lasting," (cf. Old High German murg "short," Gothic gamaurgjan "to shorten"), from PIE *mreghu- "short" (see brief (adj.)). The only exact cognate for meaning outside English was Middle Dutch mergelijc "joyful."

Connection to "pleasure" is likely via notion of "making time fly, that which makes the time seem to pass quickly" (cf. German Kurzweil "pastime," literally "a short time;" Old Norse skemta "to amuse, entertain, amuse oneself," from skamt, neuter of skammr "short"). There also was a verbal form in Old English, myrgan "be merry, rejoice." For vowel evolution, see bury (v.).

Bot vchon enle we wolde were fyf, þe mo þe myryer. [c.1300]

The word had much wider senses in Middle English, e.g. "pleasant-sounding" (of animal voices), "fine" (of weather), "handsome" (of dress), "pleasant-tasting" (of herbs). Merry-bout "an incident of sexual intercourse" was low slang from 1780. Merry-begot "illegitimate" (adj.), "bastard" (n.) is from 1785. Merrie England (now frequently satirical or ironic) is 14c. meri ingland, originally in a broader sense of "bountiful, prosperous." Merry Monday was a 16c. term for "the Monday before Shrove Tuesday" (Mardi Gras).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper