an excessively or blindly optimistic person.


(often lowercase) Also Pol·ly·an·na·ish. unreasonably or illogically optimistic: some pollyanna notions about world peace.


Origin of Pollyanna

from the name of the child heroine created by Eleanor Porter (1868–1920), American writer
Related formsPol·ly·an·na·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pollyanna

Historical Examples of pollyanna

  • "Pollyanna" gives a better appreciation of people and the world.

  • He looked like Pollyanna, after eight or ten shots at the middleweight title.

    Occasion for Disaster

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • All this Pollyanna frou-frou is all right as frosting—but you've left out the cake!


    Vance Simonds

  • Pollyanna died and, of course, she was glad and went to Heaven.

  • It is a fine thing to read a story like Pollyanna and get all excited over it.

British Dictionary definitions for pollyanna



a person who is constantly or excessively optimistic
Derived FormsPollyannaish, adjective

Word Origin for Pollyanna

C20: after the chief character in Pollyanna (1913), a novel by Eleanor Porter (1868–1920), US writer
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 pollyanna



"one who finds cause for gladness in the most difficult situations," 1921, a reference to Pollyanna Whittier, child heroine of U.S. novelist Eleanor Hodgman Porter's "Pollyanna" (1913) and "Pollyanna Grows Up" (1915), who was noted for keeping her chin up during disasters.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for pollyanna


(1913) A children's book by the American author Eleanor H. Porter. The title character is an orphan girl who, despite the difficulties of her life, is always extremely cheerful.


A “Pollyanna” remains excessively sweet-tempered and optimistic even in adversity.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.