There are 2 main definitions of jolly in English:


Line breaks: jolly
Pronunciation: /ˈdʒɒli

adjective (jollier, jolliest)

1Happy and cheerful: he was a jolly man full of jokes
More example sentences
  • Another book signing and talk with hundreds of cheerful, jolly people.
  • His family described Michael this week as a jolly, happy little lad, who had just turned two years old on May 3 last.
  • 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.
1.1 informal Lively and entertaining: we had a very jolly time
More example sentences
  • On-board entertainment including the relentlessly jolly children's club and the cabaret kept us busy until bedtime.
  • It's almost sad that Mad Mel is on holiday, her reactions to such a jolly entertainment would be a treat.
  • So it is a bit odd that the nations choose to come here for a jolly festival of running, jumping and splashing about.

verb (jollies, jollying, jollied)

[with object and adverbial] informal Back to top  
1Encourage (someone) in a friendly way: he jollied people along they were trying to jolly her out of her torpor
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
encourage, urge, coax, cajole, persuade, wheedle
1.1 (jolly someone/thing up) Make someone or something more lively or cheerful: ideas to jolly up a winter’s party
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Beaton would receive the speech, jolly it up and send it back.
  • 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?


[as submodifier] British informal Back to top  
Very; extremely: that’s a jolly good idea
More example sentences
  • He said: ‘It sounds like a jolly good idea to me and I will do all I can to find out more.’
  • I have to say that I think it's a jolly good idea - a statement that I know will make my parents proud.
  • For some reason it seemed like a jolly good idea, and in a fit of supreme confidence in my own abilities, I accepted.

noun (plural jollies)

British informal Back to top  
A party or celebration: these events were jollies some regard it as a bit of a jolly
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • A few years before, Ash, Chaz and I went to New York for a bit of a jolly.


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


get one's jollies

informal Have fun or find pleasure: she gets her jollies by making other people miserable
More example sentences
  • So as a singer, I really, really, you know, got my jollies, so to speak, getting to sing these great songs.
  • 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.
  • 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.

jolly well

British 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
More example sentences
  • You see what an expense you've jolly well gone and caused there?
  • 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’.’
  • 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.



More example sentences
  • ‘That is to remind you of your day in Santa's village,’ he laughs jollily.
  • ‘Maybe she will get jealous and come back to me,’ Chris thought jollily.
  • The two looked around at their reception and jollily simpered at the limbo line lead by their dear friend Ashton Kutcher.


More example sentences
  • The air inside the pub was dense and suffocating, thick with sweat and laughter, jolliness engulfing and eating away at everything in the room.
  • By the end of lunch, the conversation had put back on its veneer reflection of gaiety and jolliness.
  • I wanted to ask Mr. Scott since he's always so jolly and happy that if people see him with his jolliness.

Definition of jolly in:

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There are 2 main definitions of jolly in English:


Line breaks: jolly
Pronunciation: /ˈdʒɒli
(also jolly boat)

noun (plural jollies)

A clinker-built ship’s boat that is smaller than a cutter, typically hoisted at the stern of the ship.
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Redwing ordered them to lower the anchor, and they got into the jolly boats and went ashore.
  • 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.

Definition of jolly in: