• synonyms

Word Origin and History for scilly


isles off Cornwall, of unknown origin. Pliny has Silumnus, Silimnis. Perhaps connected with the Roman god Sulis (cf. Aquae sulis "Bath"). The -y might be Old Norse ey "island" The -c- added 16c.-17c. "[A]bout the only certain thing that can be said is that the c of the modern spelling is not original but was added for distinction from ModE silly as this word developed in meaning from 'happy, blissful' to 'foolish.'" [Victor Watts, "Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names," 2004].

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Examples from the Web for scilly

Historical Examples

  • It was on the 5th of December that we sighted the Scilly Isles.

    The Frozen Pirate

    W. Clark Russell

  • It was natural that Tresco should become the ecclesiastical centre of Scilly.

    The Cornwall Coast

    Arthur L. Salmon

  • The naval importance of Scilly was fully realised in those days.

    The Cornwall Coast

    Arthur L. Salmon

  • Industrially, we chiefly think of Scilly in connection with flowers.

    The Cornwall Coast

    Arthur L. Salmon

  • "Scilly people," piped a shrill female voice from our midst.