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noun, plural sal·lies.
  1. a sortie of troops from a besieged place upon an enemy.
  2. a sudden rushing forth or activity.
  3. an excursion or trip, usually off the main course.
  4. an outburst or flight of passion, fancy, etc.: a sally of anger.
  5. a clever, witty, or fanciful remark.
  6. Carpentry. a projection, as of the end of a rafter beyond the notch by which the rafter is fitted over the wall plate.
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verb (used without object), sal·lied, sal·ly·ing.
  1. to make a sally, as a body of troops from a besieged place.
  2. to set out on a side trip or excursion.
  3. to set out briskly or energetically.
  4. (of things) to issue forth.
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Origin of sally

1535–45; < Middle French saillie attack, noun use of feminine past participle of saillir to rush forward < Latin salīre to leap
Related formssal·li·er, nounout·sal·ly, verb (used with object), out·sal·lied, out·sal·ly·ing.un·sal·ly·ing, adjective


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or Sal·lie

  1. a female given name, form of Sarah.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sally

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The laughter at this sally was all it should have been, even the host joining in it.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Gray Peter had been fresher than Sally at the end of the run of the day before.

  • All in all, Gray Peter was a glorious machine; Sally was a tricky intelligence.

  • Gray Peter's heart was never in doubt, but what would Sally's courage be in a pinch?

  • If Andrew had let out Sally she would have walked away from them all, but he dared not do that.

British Dictionary definitions for sally


noun plural -lies
  1. a sudden violent excursion, esp by besieged forces to attack the besiegers; sortie
  2. a sudden outburst or emergence into action, expression, or emotion
  3. an excursion or jaunt
  4. a jocular retort
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verb -lies, -lying or -lied (intr)
  1. to make a sudden violent excursion
  2. (often foll by forth) to go out on an expedition, etc
  3. to come, go, or set out in an energetic manner
  4. to rush out suddenly
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Derived Formssallier, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Old French saillie, from saillir to dash forwards, from Latin salīre to leap


noun plural -lies
  1. the lower part of a bell rope, where it is caught at handstroke, into which coloured wool is woven to make a grip
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Word Origin

C19: perhaps from an obsolete or dialect sense of sally 1 leaping movement


noun plural -lies
  1. a member of the Salvation Army
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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 sally


1540s, "a sudden rush, dash, or springing forth; specifically of troops from a besieged place, attacking the besiegers," from Middle French saillie "a rushing forth," noun use of fem. past participle of saillir "to leap," from Latin salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). Sally-port "gate or passage in a fortification to afford free egress to troops in making a sally" is from 1640s.

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fem. proper name, alteration of Sarah (cf. Hal from Harry, Moll from Mary, etc.). Sally Lunn cakes (1780) supposedly named for the woman in Bath who first made them and sold them in the streets. Sally Ann as a nickname for Salvation Army is recorded from 1927.

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1540s, from sally (n.). Related: Sallied; sallying.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper