Definition of bonny in English:


(also bonnie)


Scottish, Northern English
  • 1Attractive or beautiful.

    ‘a bonny lass’
    • ‘One of the younger men on the boat laughed at me, and called me bonny lass for having done such a thing.’
    • ‘Why do you need a bus when you have a bonny lass to drive you to school today?’
    • ‘I didn't really know Laura but I've seen her in the village and she was a bonny girl.’
    • ‘The mask of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) is anything but bonnie.’
    • ‘‘Give us a smile, bonny lass,’ said the young sentry in a sweet Geordie voice as I walked past pretending to be invisible.’
    • ‘He has a devoted wife and a brace of bonnie offspring.’
    • ‘We were driving around Speyside the other day looking for bonny purple heather and found that the hillsides were blanketed with the dull cerise of willow-herb.’
    • ‘Outwardly bonny, Nikki is damaged by her past, and each month with Hamish is marked off as an anniversary.’
    • ‘It was not an auspicious start for bonny prince Charlie.’
    • ‘These powerful images are a far cry from Scottish artist John Finnie's 1864 idealised Maids of All Work, looking blithe and bonny in crisp cottons.’
    • ‘It was truly kind of the hairdresser to come to my house with his bonny male assistant.’
    • ‘Isobelle is my grand niece and a bonny little thing she is.’
    • ‘‘You've come a long way,’ said Naomi, the casting director's assistant who was bonny and bright.’
    • ‘She is a larger than life Earth Mother: bonny, capable, strong and energetic.’
    • ‘From here we can also see cars blitzing their way north as the A9 snakes through some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery close to bonny Loch Alvie.’
    beautiful, attractive, handsome, pretty, gorgeous, good-looking, nice-looking, well favoured, fetching, prepossessing, ravishing, stunning
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    1. 1.1 (of a baby) plump and healthy-looking.
      • ‘She now holds her bonny baby as if he is the only light in her life.’
      • ‘There are just a few days left to enter your bonny baby into this year's Baby of the Year competition.’
      • ‘There will be a dog show at 1pm, bonny baby at 2.30 pm, fancy dress at 3pm followed by Best Dressed Lady at 3.30 pm.’
      • ‘The church bells rang out as families with bonny babies filled the church for a baptism service.’
      • ‘We have events for all generations from bonny baby, kids fancy dress, children's tug-o-war to our most appropriately dressed lady and gentleman.’
    2. 1.2 Sizable; considerable (usually expressing approval)
      ‘it's worth a thousand pounds, a bonny sum’
      • ‘Keith believes his Grandpa got less than £5000 for the farm (still, a bonny sum in the early 50s).’
      fairly large, substantial, considerable, respectable, significant, largish, biggish, decent, decent-sized, generous, handsome
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my bonny
Scottish, Northern English
  • Used as a form of address for one's beloved or baby.

    • ‘My bonnie lies over the sea.’
    • ‘My bonnie lies over the ocean.’
    • ‘So bring back me bonnie to moi.’


Late 15th century: perhaps related to Old French bon ‘good’.