Main definitions of jolly in US English:

: jolly1jolly2



  • 1Happy and cheerful.

    ‘he was a jolly man full of jokes’
    • ‘His family described Michael this week as a jolly, happy little lad, who had just turned two years old on May 3 last.’
    • ‘He presented each child with a certificate of achievement and his jolly and good humoured manner went down a treat with all.’
    • ‘He clapped with a jolly laugh as he emerged from the darkness.’
    • ‘Arian was getting up to leave when a jolly looking, red headed giant of a man with sparkling gray eyes entered the room.’
    • ‘He had a jolly laugh and his belly shook when he was really amused by something, and his wise old eyes lit up with mischief right before he'd ask you a riddle.’
    • ‘Mykela was remembered as a jolly little angel, full of life and mischief.’
    • ‘The reaction it brought in cinemas was a jolly laugh.’
    • ‘He smiled, jolly creases appearing on his chubby face.’
    • ‘It wasn't like it was a big walk in the park, everybody was happy and jolly all the time and talking about their next project.’
    • ‘Back at base, Alec arrives looking his usual jolly self, full of anticipation and excitement about the coming evening as he chats with the rest of the crew.’
    • ‘We see commercials and movies where everyone's so damn happy and jolly.’
    • ‘He has a jolly, ready laugh and mannerisms like an absentminded professor.’
    • ‘She was all very jolly and laughing and joking with us and over a quarter of an hour we learned quite a bit about her and that she was waiting to see a doctor there.’
    • ‘I try to always send him out the door happy and looking forward to his day and encourage him to be cheerful and jolly.’
    • ‘Another book signing and talk with hundreds of cheerful, jolly people.’
    • ‘He's laughing down the phone and it's a pity I can't see him smile, because on his dust-jackets he looks such a jolly fellow.’
    • ‘Tis the season to be jolly, yet somehow this is also the season to be socially responsible.’
    • ‘He was a jolly young fellow and always seemed to be happy and smiling.’
    • ‘He is a jolly soul, smiling at every opportunity and applauding his opponents' shots as if having a knockabout in the park.’
    • ‘The conservatory was bright with warmth and a jolly mood.’
    cheerful, happy, cheery, good-humoured, jovial, merry, sunny, bright, joyful, light-hearted, in high spirits, in good spirits, sparkling, bubbly, exuberant, effervescent, ebullient, breezy, airy, lively, vivacious, full of life, sprightly, jaunty
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal Lively and entertaining.
      ‘we had a very jolly time’
      • ‘It's almost sad that Mad Mel is on holiday, her reactions to such a jolly entertainment would be a treat.’
      • ‘Gatlin entertained rich clients with his jolly wit.’
      • ‘But, he remembers, there was that place in Wales where, as a student, he and his friends had that jolly time, and where the landlady was so accommodating.’
      • ‘Before it was a happy, jolly place and now it is like Fort Knox.’
      • ‘A pristine set - punctuated with jolly crowd banter is what one comes to expect from Reuben, and they never fail to deliver.’
      • ‘Parents and children sit in a circle, sing songs, play instruments - drums are, perhaps not surprisingly, very popular - enjoy a few musical games and generally have a jolly time.’
      • ‘So it is a bit odd that the nations choose to come here for a jolly festival of running, jumping and splashing about.’
      • ‘On-board entertainment including the relentlessly jolly children's club and the cabaret kept us busy until bedtime.’
      • ‘Oh, it's been a jolly time, all those years laughing and talking and partying with Steve.’
      • ‘And she knows just how tough it will be not being able to join in the jolly banter on a busy evening.’
      • ‘Sing-alongs, puppets and a pinch of magic all make for a jolly time at the theatre and a happy ending of course.’
      • ‘Bizarrely the poster shows a jolly, alfresco party, possibly by an unseen pool.’
      • ‘Evoking the jolly spirit of regattas the rowing centre has a festive functionalism that sits lightly on the earth.’
      cheerful, happy, cheery, good-humoured, jovial, merry, sunny, bright, joyful, light-hearted, in high spirits, in good spirits, sparkling, bubbly, exuberant, effervescent, ebullient, breezy, airy, lively, vivacious, full of life, sprightly, jaunty
      View synonyms


  • 1with object and adverbial Encourage (someone) in a friendly way.

    ‘he jollied people along’
    ‘they were trying to jolly her out of her torpor’
    • ‘Be careful about trying to jolly the person along.’
    • ‘She has jollied people along when they needed it, but has also been a good face and voice in the media for the needs of the farming and rural community.’
    • ‘I'll be damned if I can figure out who goes to these things, aside from those who are jollied along by their employer.’
    • ‘Boosterism, flattery, jollying one's councillors towards a decision are vital.’
    • ‘Graham will be home for a couple of days tomorrow and that'll serve to jolly me out of it.’
    • ‘The befuddled hosts at first tried to jolly Stewart into being the good-natured guest they'd expected.’
    • ‘Don't try to cheer them up, or jolly them out of their pain.’
    • ‘He doesn't even try to jolly her along and make her feel important, because he ultimately sees she's not going to be with him any way.’
    • ‘The Lion's Club, the Rotary, the Women's Institute, whatever was on the social calendar you could bet that Ant would be involved, jollying everyone along, making sure everyone got a chance to shine.’
    • ‘They jolly the groups around the sets, answering questions from kids and ensuring no one gets lost.’
    • ‘Just bear in mind the distinction between assertiveness and aggression if you have to jolly them along.’
    • ‘He is dynamic and one of those people who jollies everybody along.’
    • ‘Mr Hammick said: ‘She had been out with friends who had tried to jolly her along.’’
    • ‘The third character is Awly, the friend who tries to jolly Leo out of his lovesickness.’
    • ‘And I was always the one that is always jollying everyone up.’
    • ‘But equally it was obvious from the reactions to my confidential letter that unless I forced the issue they would keep jollying me along and not do anything about finding a successor.’
    encourage, urge, coax, cajole, persuade, wheedle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1jolly someone/something up Make someone or something more lively or cheerful.
      ‘ideas to jolly up a winter's party’
      • ‘To jolly things up Blighty made the joke about it being a shame more of the voters weren't undead, then Howard might have a chance.’
      • ‘There was a time when his plain speaking was a joy to the ear but can't you just jolly it up a bit, Al?’
      • ‘Beaton would receive the speech, jolly it up and send it back.’


  • as submodifier Very; extremely.

    ‘he is jolly busy’
    • ‘It's still very much inanimate objects and a television screen and jolly old books and things like that.’
    • ‘I rarely meet any of my neighbours, which is the way I like it, but I did meet both of my old beside- and above-neighbours and they were jolly decent blokes.’
    • ‘He has just had some jolly bad news.’
    • ‘You'll probably be jolly angry this morning to find I'm wasting your time.’
    • ‘The next few days are all very exciting though, today it's the wedding of my cousin Amanda (to Daniel) to which I'm wearing the exciting and jolly expensive new suit.’
    • ‘And when you tire of the cultural onslaught, the gardens are jolly nice, too.’
    • ‘They are an excellent live band and jolly nice chaps as well.’
    • ‘Falstaff was big and fantastically blustery, and in that context, we somehow managed to avoid discussing the politics of the day, enjoying a jolly frivolous evening in all.’
    • ‘I'm jolly glad to know we haven't had any of those in our national life.’
    • ‘I now have two confirmed locations, one more is very likely to say yes in the next few days, and I'm waiting on two that are meeting later this week - all jolly exciting.’
    • ‘Well, we've been married thirty years now, and even after thirty years, it's still jolly nice to know that we love one another.’
    • ‘They were jolly nice, and they've got this lilting kind of accent.’
    • ‘The extra income was jolly nice, spread out over a few years.’
    • ‘I rustled up a stunning little meal, and I have to say I was jolly proud.’
    • ‘This is jolly clever technology.’
    • ‘The floodlights are an eyesore, for sure, but since I understand that it's jolly hard to play football in the dark I have not complained.’
    • ‘This may have been a non-event of Olympic proportions, but at least it all looked jolly impressive for 15 seconds on local TV news later in the evening.’
    • ‘Some say this was because they were too proud to conform; others that he realised they'd be jolly useful for the tourist industry.’
    • ‘I'm jolly glad that it only took you 5 days to respond.’
    • ‘‘This is a British-made rickshaw, manufactured to a fantastic specification and was jolly expensive,’ said Marion.’
    very, extremely, exceedingly, exceptionally, especially, tremendously, immensely, vastly, hugely
    View synonyms


  • A party or celebration.

    • ‘In fact, I'll have a word with my bosses and see if we can all go out to Hawaii on a jolly and do a bit of filming.’
    • ‘A few years before, Ash, Chaz and I went to New York for a bit of a jolly.’
    • ‘It got off to an uncertain start this year with Bristol's Essential Festival, a three-day May bank holiday jolly.’
    • ‘Next week we've got the rabble that is the Tory fascists party gathering for their annual jolly.’
    • ‘Alfie will be off on a bit of a jolly for the next few days.’


  • get one's jollies

    • informal Have fun or find pleasure.

      • ‘They tape this stuff and watch it over and over to get their jollies.’
      • ‘Again, what does it say about the human heart if you get your jollies, so to speak, by peering into somebody's interaction on a supposed desert island?’
      • ‘I get my jollies out of creating and playing ‘military simulations’, be they they implemented on computer, on cardboard, or even the traditional toy soldiers.’
      • ‘To be honest, it is mainly because of the trolls who get their jollies by flaming other people's opinions.’
      • ‘Dein is not a masochist, public humiliation is not how he gets his jollies.’
      • ‘I just can't stand the type of person who gets their jollies and feeling of personal power from pushing around others they consider to be inferior to them.’
      • ‘I'd never consider going to the Castro on Halloween or to that Burning Man thing in the desert, so I thought I could get my jollies with an eye full seeing this spectacle.’
      • ‘He only mentions that he gets his jollies to the sound of breaking glass.’
      • ‘Pottinger was getting his jollies with the car in a special one day racing licence course where he was trying to gain endorsement to gain his Confederation of Australian Motor Sport licence.’
      • ‘So as a singer, I really, really, you know, got my jollies, so to speak, getting to sing these great songs.’
  • jolly good

    • 1informal Very good or enjoyable.

      ‘you're free to have a jolly good time’
      • ‘He's having a jolly good time in his little universe, completely oblivious of the world around him.’
      • ‘Even now we occasionally pull out the tapes we made at that time and have a jolly good chuckle to remind ourselves of how far she has actually come!’
      • ‘He invited himself and the rest of the staff crew to come and wreck my life in a weekend of jolly good fun.’
      • ‘The proposals seem to amount to two things: providing useful information, and putting on a jolly good citizenship ceremony.’
      • ‘I found its seafood a little drier than I would like, but still think it's a jolly good idea and would try it again.’
      • ‘He'd had a jolly good breakfast.’
      • ‘The really annoying thing about trying to interview him is that he can be jolly good company.’
      • ‘I did a jolly good deal.’
      1. 1.1Very thorough.
        ‘the desire to give a house a jolly good clean’
        • ‘They have gone running like overgrown school sissies squealing to teacher about the boy they don't like in the hope that teacher will give him a jolly good thrashing.’
        • ‘After several weeks they are still giving their pencils a jolly good sharpening while they ponder that one.’
        • ‘To start with, Jude decided to get so drunk that he let his own children catch him giving their nanny a jolly good seeing to.’
        • ‘They would be giving both men a jolly good talking to.’
        • ‘She began to give me a jolly good working over.’
        • ‘That was a jolly good job of reporting you did.’
    • 2informal Used to express agreement or consent.

      ‘jolly good, let's press on’
      • ‘Jolly good. It's about time, too!’
      • ‘Jolly good, that makes a nice change.’
      • ‘"Jolly good, it's still working then."’
      • ‘"Jolly good," she says, moving on.’
      • ‘Well, jolly good—he must have met someone.’
      • ‘Jolly good. Arthur it is then.’
  • jolly well

    • informal Used for emphasis, especially when one is angry or irritated.

      ‘I'm going to keep on eating as much sugar as I jolly well like’
      • ‘You see what an expense you've jolly well gone and caused there?’
      • ‘The cowardly cyber-stalkers and other anonymous yellow-bellied hatemongers who lurk on the Internet, preying on decent folks, can jolly well lump it.’
      • ‘We promised ourselves a few days - ‘as long as it takes’ - of rest and recuperation, not to mention re-adjustment, and we're jolly well taking our time over it.’
      • ‘This made Michael so angry that he took time off from installing telephone lines to urge Dunkers to jolly well speak up for himself, or he would have to do it for him.’
      • ‘Well, you jolly well won't have the chance any other term!’
      • ‘I'd like to see what our roof looks like - whether it has a lake on it like the flat roofs in the courtyard below - but unfortunately, Google doesn't jolly well support Macintoshes.’
      • ‘Alec jolly well expected everything to be absolutely right.’
      • ‘All in all, a good month (but for now back to the summer mowing as long as it stops jolly well raining!’
      • ‘I heard one of the English rugby squad on the radio this week enthusing about how nice it was to be part of a team which was doing jolly well, even though their country is unassuming and doesn't like to brag about its victories.’
      • ‘As an AA spokesman put it: ‘In spite of petrol prices it seemed everyone thought, ‘This was our last chance and we'll jolly well make the most of it’.’’


Middle English: from Old French jolif, an earlier form of joli ‘pretty’, perhaps from Old Norse jól (see Yule).




Main definitions of jolly in US English:

: jolly1jolly2


(also jolly boat)


  • A lapstraked ship's boat that is smaller than a cutter, typically hoisted at the stern of the ship.

    • ‘Redwing ordered them to lower the anchor, and they got into the jolly boats and went ashore.’
    • ‘The boyfriend and I had a day off yesterday and went on a jolly round the Thames like tourists.’
    • ‘In the old days, this meant sending jolly boats ashore and sacking a town, as Captain Henry Morgan did throughout the Spanish colonies at Portobello, Maracaibo, and Panama City in the late 17th century.’
    • ‘About the time I first noted reports of the Medas Isles in Diver in the late 1980s, I was on a corporate jolly to Marbella on the Costa del Sol.’
    • ‘Then the crew, minus the few who were to stand watch, piled into the jolly boats to go ashore.’


Early 18th century: perhaps related to yawl.