Definition of nelly in English:


(also nellie)


  • 1A silly person.

    • ‘Coincidentally, none of them has ever been among the nervous nellies who pale at the thought of being alone with yours truly.’
    • ‘That's code to nervous Coalition nellies, is it not, to hold their nerve?’
    • ‘Is it any wonder that he gets impatient with the nervous nellies from the old nations who think they have a bit more experience with wars designed to bring peace to the world, and are reluctant to jump into yet another one.’
    • ‘Our frontier was not settled by nervous nellies with degrees in Peace Studies.’
    • ‘We're raising a generation of nervous nellies.’
    • ‘Wait till you had the bandage ready, and the whole reform opportunity would be suffocated by nervous nellies.’
    • ‘The inability of these nervous nellies to hold their peace for a couple of months and save their moaning for the appropriate ALP forum is seriously hampering the ALP's chances of victory on November 10.’
    • ‘Do we have a crew of nervous nellies running the country?’
    • ‘It just so happens there are enough nervous nellies in the Labor and National Parties to ensure that such a proposal would not get up.’
    • ‘I'm a big old nelly who hates flying and am likely to be sweating like a fat girl on a hot day.’
    • ‘Were the nervous nellies and the backside coverers more persuasive?’
    • ‘Along the way he reformed administrative law, updated the evidence laws and introduced youth conferencing; he also gave gay law reform and defamation law a red hot shot, before being scotched by the nervous nellies in Cabinet Office.’
  • 2offensive An effeminate homosexual man.


1930s: from the given name Nelly.