Definition of woolly in English:


(also wooly)


  • 1Made of wool.

    ‘a red woolly hat’
    • ‘It looked like a disgruntled teenage jellyfish forced to wear a woolly hat knitted by an overprotective mother.’
    • ‘"We are all wearing big woolly jumpers, so not many customers have noticed.’
    • ‘Leave the thermals at home, forget the woolly hat and the three pairs of socks, and instead, don stylish sunglasses and a shirt.’
    • ‘The word soon spread, and woolly tights became something of a must-have cult item with all us children on the mountain.’
    • ‘Her worn out old woolly overcoat finished off her appearance, thus she wasn't that surprised when a primly dressed young couple quickly averted their eyes from her as she crossed their front gate.’
    • ‘On his feet he was wearing some sturdy walking boots and a few pairs of woolly socks.’
    • ‘The suspect is described as white, 5ft 11 in, of stocky build, and wearing a woolly hat, denim jacket, a white T-shirt and dark jeans.’
    • ‘I wore my big, thick woolly tramping socks to work the other day.’
    • ‘I tucked my hair into a black woolly cap and went without my usual brightly coloured eye make-up so I'd have a nice clear base to work with.’
    • ‘The suspects are described as white males with woolly hats and dark clothing.’
    • ‘Someone had also covered her in warm woolly blankets, effectively keeping out the night's chill.’
    • ‘I like to scrape the car, get the waterproofs and woolly hat on.’
    • ‘He was wearing his official white and black club tracksuit and trademark woolly hat.’
    • ‘But I need a hottie and a pair of woolly socks.’
    • ‘Like, that members of republican groups tend not to hang around in gangs on balconies wearing dark woolly jumpers and darker expressions.’
    • ‘Only by donning a woolly cap did he draw a parallel to his best-known character, the anti-corporate vagrant Hutch Owen.’
    • ‘Mike put on the new bulky coat he'd gotten for Christmas, and the cap with woolly flaps that covered his ears.’
    • ‘Her face was still covered by the old woolly hood.’
    • ‘He had a black woolly hat and wore a khaki jacket with red scarf and gloves.’
    • ‘Tried to get a pint at lunchtime only to find the entire bar stuffed with weirdo Liberals wearing kaftans and woolly sweaters, who had come all the way up from Cornwall to spend a week on a lost cause.’
    woollen, made of wool, wool, fleecy
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of an animal, plant, or part) bearing or naturally covered with wool or hair resembling wool.
      • ‘He proposed that the woolly mammoths died during the Flood by a quick freeze.’
      • ‘Large primates, such as the woolly monkey, are often hunted by rural villagers when other sources of protein are scarce.’
      • ‘Even a bear cuscus, a woolly marsupial found in Sulawesi's forests and normally a leaf-eater, won't turn down a succulent fig.’
      • ‘Geologists say it probably once belonged to a woolly mammoth or a mastodon.’
      • ‘When coupled with the appropriate sign, we knew exactly what she wanted - a snack, or to cuddle with her woolly stuffed animal.’
      • ‘Well, it's not all about sweet little woolly creatures, you know.’
      • ‘One of these species, the woolly rhino, is clearly shown in the cave paintings of early humans.’
      • ‘Beneath us, the grass-covered, flat-roofed huts of Gujjar shepherds, the flocks of woolly sheep, the sturdy ponies and their handlers all headed to Kongdori.’
      • ‘One of the iconic images of Australia is the Merino sheep, an extremely woolly, arid-land adapted animal that is the backbone of our wool industry.’
      • ‘The bones of mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, lion, bison, and great Irish elk were found.’
      • ‘Your business either lets you go hunt the woolly mammoth or it doesn't.’
      • ‘I was thinking about this short-lived notoriety as I walked the hills with their scattering of sheep when I became aware of another fact about these woolly creatures.’
      • ‘Anyone got a handle on short, white, woolly giraffes?’
      • ‘In my little corner of the world, the month of March usually swoops in like the proverbial lion then gently leaves like a woolly lamb.’
      • ‘Twenty-two sheep found themselves with a week's detention at Ingleton Middle School after the headmistress, Mary Parker, impounded the woolly creatures.’
      • ‘The man known as SuperBison truly has the strength of the woolly beast.’
      • ‘Doubtless they hunted horses there, as well as the roaming bison, woolly rhino and hyena.’
      • ‘Our textbooks were full of woolly mammals and cave men from the northern hemisphere but we knew very, very little of how the great Australian environment had responded to those events of the last Ice Age.’
      fleecy, shaggy, hairy, fluffy
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Resembling wool in texture or appearance.
      ‘woolly wisps of cloud’
      • ‘Usually three or four terminal or sub-terminal inflorescences arise together and these are covered with short woolly hairs.’
      • ‘It is all very well reading out these nice woolly, fluffy comments that the Minister has made, but the member knows that it is not fair.’
      • ‘When I released it this morning, it merely hunched on the ground beneath a woolly bush, its feathers fluffed up, and grey as the overcast day.’
      • ‘Squatting on all fours like some great beast of the forest, Erik shook his mane of wild auburn hair, scratched his woolly beard, and flared his nostrils as he took heavy breaths of cool air.’
      • ‘She had woolly golden hair and blue Slovakian eyes.’
      • ‘The surface is softened by carpets of woolly thyme planted between the stones.’
      • ‘The combination of bushy tail and woolly fur gives the animal a sort of unkempt, shaggy appearance.’
      • ‘They look like huge slumbering monsters, wrapped in blankets of woolly cloud, their dark cheeks streaming with the tears of innumerable freshwater falls.’
      • ‘Male lions develop thick woolly manes on the neck and shoulders, signifying maturity.’
      • ‘An aromatic woolly plant native to Crete, formerly believed to have magical powers.’
      • ‘The seasonal molt of their woolly winter hair makes them look even more wretched.’
      • ‘Behind the coastline lies a bank of woolly cloud.’
      • ‘Mohr reported on dominant inheritance of woolly hair.’
      • ‘Their woolly hair was plastered with rain and muck.’
      • ‘The fungus grows rapidly and morphologically appears woolly or fluffy.’
      • ‘Or cut away infected new growth and scrub any remaining woolly patches on the bark with a toothbrush dipped in methylated spirits (labour intensive but worth it).’
  • 2Vague or confused in expression or character.

    ‘woolly thinking’
    • ‘The idea of group selection has been much criticized as woolly thinking in the past.’
    • ‘Even then, it was based on a short and rather woolly statement.’
    • ‘To do so would be a mistake, for the novel gathers force and what appears to be a woolly, romantic start turns out to be necessary and crafted.’
    • ‘I try to persuade them that holistic medicine need not be, indeed must not be, woolly and imprecise.’
    • ‘It's expressed in rather more woolly language but I accept what your Honour says.’
    • ‘The judges felt the Entitlement card idea was just too stupid, woolly and nebulous to win.’
    • ‘This was negligence pure and simple, confused by an ill-fitting and woolly disguise of nuisance.’
    • ‘Where doubt is talked about quite a bit in the Dharma is the sort of doubt that leaves one being vague and woolly, so you sort of think, oh, I can't meditate, or I could never be enlightened.’
    • ‘He insists that the Heriot's amendment is too woolly to vote upon.’
    • ‘It's all a little vague and woolly at present, and nothing much will happen, as far as the consumer is concerned, for a year or two.’
    • ‘The more detail that is demanded the better, because it will concentrate the minds of a group of people who tend to be hopelessly vague and woolly.’
    • ‘On your woolly criteria you would have to characterise the more than 50% of the population now said to oppose the war in Iraq as leftist.’
    • ‘To me, at least, the arguments have always seemed too woolly to be entirely convincing.’
    • ‘Labour has been vague and woolly with regard to the treaty settlement process up until now.’
    • ‘Lest that sound altogether woolly, I'll try and explain what I mean by this.’
    • ‘It's startling, difficult and rewarding: sometimes knotty with reference and allusion, sometimes woolly and vague.’
    • ‘The letter " Speed humps damage cars " is plain woolly thinking.’
    • ‘"Several parishes have responded that the proposals are too woolly and open to inconsistent and individual interpretation.’
    • ‘My latest academic post here is another one of my attacks on the woolly thinking that is so characteristic of academic psychology.’
    • ‘Nice, our teachers told us, was vague, imprecise, woolly.’
    vague, ill-defined, hazy, unclear, unfocused, fuzzy, blurry, foggy, nebulous, imprecise, inexact, indefinite
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (of a sound) indistinct or distorted.
      ‘an opaque and woolly recording’
      • ‘The Sovtek has a wooly sound, with a pronounced lower midrange.’
      • ‘And how disappointing that the wooly sound quality obscures a lot of the detail - following the bass part with the score was well nigh impossible.’


  • 1usually woolliesBritish A garment made of wool, especially a pullover.

    • ‘Bargain hunters snapped up everything from winter woollies to suits and evening wear.’
    • ‘I suggest you take a selection of different clothes including your winter woollies.’
    • ‘Anyway, at least I'm now justified in wearing woollies in August.’
    • ‘Wearing winter woollies, the group huddled together outside Lancaster Farms last week with simple banners to highlight their pay dispute.’
    • ‘When they considered we had collected enough we would swap our woollies for the potatoes.’
    • ‘Norse woollies do not have to mean complicated geometric patterns.’
    • ‘Plunging temperatures yesterday had residents in the interior of the province reaching for their winter woollies and heaters as a cold front hit the Eastern Cape.’
    • ‘Tell-tale splodges between the fingers, round the ankles and, in a couple of particularly bad cases, down the cleavage suggested that I wasn't the only one aghast at the effects of nine months swaddled in layers of woollies.’
    • ‘And as we're approaching that time of year when we can throw off the winter woollies and bare our flesh to the summer sun, now's a good time to see how we can tone up.’
    • ‘But she'd rather put on her woollies and galoshes and go splash in a puddle.’
    • ‘As if this wasn't enough to leave me feeling low, my friend Beryl later charged into my house, through the sleet, shouting: ‘Honey, I shrunk the winter woollies!’’
    • ‘As temperatures start to drop, out come the woollies, together with all manner of heating appliances - and fires - to make the nights and early mornings more bearable.’
    • ‘Conversely, in spring, it can be sweltering and yet it is not officially ‘warm’ yet so the students have to stay wearing their winter woollies whilst the rest of the country has moved onto cool cottons.’
    • ‘During the conference, when I was in the hotel, the air conditioning was so fierce I had to wear my woollies to keep warm.’
    • ‘‘You actually do need some woollies and a warm jacket,’ says Charlotte.’
    • ‘Lord knows how we will all cope when the truly important stuff begins and people in curious woollies are hitting dimpled balls into little holes.’
    • ‘Icy mornings, hail, sleet and snow have had everyone dusting off their winter woollies even though spring has officially sprung.’
    • ‘The child confessed that hidden away, he had an old tobacco tin that smelt of his dad's woollies and whenever he really missed his dad, he would undo the tobacco tin and take a little sniff, but not too much, in case he used up the smell.’
    • ‘Snow and heavy rainfalls were reported throughout the northern region of the Eastern Cape yesterday and residents were forced to take out winter woollies which had been packed away in anticipation of spring.’
    • ‘She's too busy buying woollies for everyone else before Christmas, and will only come back to treat herself in the January sales.’
    knitted garment, woollen
    View synonyms
  • 2NZ Australian A sheep.

    • ‘By the early 1900s, sheep were big business in Montana with 4.2 million of the woollies grazing the immense open ranges of the Big Sky Country.’
    • ‘Pioneer historians were quick to notice that bighorn epidemics regularly followed the arrival of tame woollies.’