There are 2 main definitions of golly in English:

Share this entry

golly 1

Pronunciation: /ˈɡälē/
(also by golly)


informal, dated
Used to express surprise or delight: “Golly! Is that the time?”
More example sentences
  • I think we're doing it but, by golly, you don't do that in six years.
  • And by golly, all weekend long and for nearly the entirety of the coming week, we'll be basking underneath blue skies and 68-degree weather.
  • But by golly, if you believe it, that's good enough for me.


Late 18th century: euphemism for God.

  • God from Old English:

    The Old English word God is related to similar words in German and in Scandinavian languages, but not to the Latin and Greek words, which were deus ( see divine) and theos (as in theology (Late Middle English)). The top gallery in a theatre is known as the gods—the original term in the 1750s was the regions of the gods, because the seats were high up and therefore close to the heavens. Godfather and godmother has been used since around ad 1000. Godfather meaning ‘a leader of the American Mafia’ has been a familiar term since Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather (1969) filmed in 1972, but was first recorded in the early 1960s. The origins of the British national anthem God save the Queen (or King) are not known for sure, but the song was definitely sung in London theatres in 1745, when the country was threatened by the Jacobite uprising led by the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the words and tune probably date from the previous century. ‘God save the king’ was a password in the navy as early as 1545—‘long to reign over us’ was the correct response. The exclamations gosh (mid 18th century) and golly (mid 18th century) were originally ways to avoid taking God's name in vain. See also lap

Words that rhyme with golly

Barbirolli, brolly, collie, dolly, folly, holly, jolly, lolly, Mollie, molly, nollie, Ollie, polly, poly, trolley, volley, wally

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: gol·ly

Share this entry

There are 2 main definitions of golly in English:

Share this entry

golly 2

Pronunciation: /ˈɡɒli/

Entry from British & World English dictionary

noun (plural gollies)

British informal
Short for golliwog.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: golly

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.