Definition of holly in English:



  • A widely distributed shrub, typically having prickly dark green leaves, small white flowers, and red berries. There are several deciduous species of holly but the evergreen hollies are more typical and familiar.

    See also yaupon
    , See also winterberry
    , and See also gallberry
    • ‘The flowers are fairly small but numerous and are a satisfying contrast with the dark leaves of the holly tree.’
    • ‘Some popular small trees and shrubs with birds are: blueberries, elderberries, hollies, cherries, and dogwoods.’
    • ‘The sharp, prickly leaves provide an effective deterrent, and the holly can be removed after a few weeks.’
    • ‘Some hollies have orange berries rather than red, as does Pyracantha (firethorn).’
    • ‘The holly's convex, glossy leaves contrast nicely with the Korean boxwood's flat, oval, lighter green leaves.’
    • ‘Severe winter conditions, and sometimes soil deficiencies, may cause physiological problems such as sunscald and purple spot on the leaves of evergreen hollies.’
    • ‘And then there are the usual green plants with red berries such as hollies and barberry, and old garden roses with showy hips.’
    • ‘Both deciduous and evergreen hollies are much loved for their berries, which range in color from orange and red to yellow and black.’
    • ‘This month, nurseries will be offering dozens of hollies, many in full berry.’
    • ‘Evergreens and shrubs - including junipers and hollies - offer protection.’
    • ‘Winter birds prefer evergreens like holly and junipers, which provide shelter and food.’
    • ‘Their broadly indented margins show the distinctive prickly spines that are typical of most evergreen hollies - and dangerous to bare feet!’
    • ‘Japanese hollies seldom require much pruning in our area.’
    • ‘Avoid prickly leaves like holly or ones that are extremely fragile.’
    • ‘Every garden should have holly with berries for Christmas.’
    • ‘We bought what appeared to be a healthy holly tree, planted it in a large pot and placed it on our patio.’
    • ‘If you order one, make sure to also order a mate for it, since hollies come in males and females - and it takes both to make berries.’
    • ‘If you simply must have an evergreen, then what about a variegated holly?’
    • ‘Most hollies are either male or female and need to have a nearby partner for good crop of berries to be produced, I suspect this is why ours crops so erratically.’
    • ‘These days, we use the holly primarily as a structural evergreen shrub.’


Middle English holi, shortened form of Old English holegn, holen, of Germanic origin; related to German Hulst.