adjective, sil·li·er, sil·li·est.
  1. weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish: a silly writer.
  2. absurd; ridiculous; irrational: a silly idea.
  3. stunned; dazed: He knocked me silly.
  4. Cricket. (of a fielder or the fielder's playing position) extremely close to the batsman's wicket: silly mid off.
  5. Archaic. rustic; plain; homely.
  6. Archaic. weak; helpless.
  7. Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.
noun, plural sil·lies.
  1. Informal. a silly or foolish person: Don't be such a silly.

Origin of silly

1375–1425; earlier sylie, sillie foolish, feeble-minded, simple, pitiful; late Middle English syly, variant of sely seely
Related formssil·li·ly, adverbsil·li·ness, nounun·sil·ly, adjective

Synonyms for silly

1. witless, senseless, dull-witted, dim-witted. See foolish. 2. inane, asinine, nonsensical, preposterous.

Antonyms for silly Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sillier

Contemporary Examples of sillier

  • In any case, this whole thing is just looking sillier and sillier.

    The Daily Beast logo
    More Details on IRS Approvals

    Michael Tomasky

    June 12, 2013

  • Yet 2012 has shaped up as one of the sillier and sleazier campaigns in recent times.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Good Candidates, Bad Election

    David Frum

    August 8, 2012

  • Boehner may have an envy problem, and, if so, it is making him sillier and sweatier by the week.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The GOP's Oompa-Loompa

    John Batchelor

    September 2, 2010

Historical Examples of sillier

  • "But it must be sillier than usual," said Harriet, and her voice began to quaver.

  • And did you ever come across a sillier tribe of people than these same rhapsodists?

  • "The bigger a man is the sillier he is," she said, still laughing.

    The Jucklins

    Opie Read

  • The guests were disgusted with the silly child, and sillier mother.

  • Really, I some times think that the older people get the sillier they are.

    Wood Magic

    Richard Jefferies

British Dictionary definitions for sillier


adjective -lier or -liest
  1. lacking in good sense; absurd
  2. frivolous, trivial, or superficial
  3. feeble-minded
  4. dazed, as from a blow
  5. obsolete homely or humble
  1. (modifier) cricket (of a fielding position) near the batsman's wicketsilly mid-on
  2. Also called: silly-billy plural -lies informal a foolish person
Derived Formssilliness, noun

Word Origin for silly

C15 (in the sense: pitiable, hence the later senses: foolish): from Old English sǣlig (unattested) happy, from sǣl happiness; related to Gothic sēls good
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 sillier



Old English gesælig "happy, fortuitous, prosperous" (related to sæl "happiness"), from Proto-Germanic *sæligas (cf. Old Norse sæll "happy," Old Saxon salig, Middle Dutch salich, Old High German salig, German selig "blessed, happy, blissful," Gothic sels "good, kindhearted"), from PIE *sele- "of good mood; to favor," from root *sel- (2) "happy, of good mood; to favor" (cf. Latin solari "to comfort," Greek hilaros "cheerful, gay, merry, joyous").

This is one of the few instances in which an original long e (ee) has become shortened to i. The same change occurs in breeches, and in the American pronunciation of been, with no change in spelling. [Century Dictionary]

The word's considerable sense development moved from "happy" to "blessed" to "pious," to "innocent" (c.1200), to "harmless," to "pitiable" (late 13c.), "weak" (c.1300), to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish" (1570s). Further tendency toward "stunned, dazed as by a blow" (1886) in knocked silly, etc. Silly season in journalism slang is from 1861 (August and September, when newspapers compensate for a lack of hard news by filling up with trivial stories). Silly Putty trademark claims use from July 1949.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper