Definition of nelly in English:


Syllabification: nel·ly
Pronunciation: /ˈnelē

noun (plural nellies)

  • 1A silly person.
    More example sentences
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • We're raising a generation of nervous nellies.
  • 2 offensive An effeminate homosexual man.
    More example sentences
    • Straight Eye for the Queer Guy - five ‘real men’ teach a nelly how to play Sports.
    • Are we all supposed to be limp-wristed nellies?


not on your nelly

British Certainly not.
[originally as not on your Nelly Duff, rhyming slang for 'puff' (i.e., breath of life); modeled on the phrase not on your life]
More example sentences
  • Frankie Howerd was the man with the catchphrases ‘titter ye not’, ‘shut yer face’ and ‘not on your nelly’.
  • Surely this would make her a heroine, a whistle-blower, someone who was being bullied and discriminated against, an all-round good girl with priceless victim credentials - but no, not on your nelly.
  • Generating incremental sales commissions through a low-cost distribution channel like the website its passengers use - not on your nelly!


mid 20th century: from the given name Nelly.

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used to address an English nobleman