Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of numerous trees or shrubs of the genus Ilex, usually having bright red berries and glossy evergreen leaves with spiny margins.
  • n. Branches of these plants, traditionally used for Christmas decoration.
  • n. Any of various similar or related plants.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various shrubs or (mostly) small trees, of the genus Ilex, either evergreen or deciduous, used as decoration especially at Christmas.
  • n. The wood from this tree.
  • n. Any of several unrelated plant species likened to Ilex because of their prickly, evergreen foliage and/or round, bright-red berries

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Wholly.
  • n. A tree or shrub of the genus Ilex. The European species (Ilex Aquifolium) is best known, having glossy green leaves, with a spiny, waved edge, and bearing berries that turn red or yellow about Michaelmas.
  • n. The holm oak. See 1st Holm.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An obsolete spelling of wholly.
  • n. A plant of the genus Ilex, natural order Ilicineæ.
  • n. The holm-oak, Quercus Ilex, an evergreen oak. Often called holly-oak.
  • n. In Tasmania, a shrub of the madder family, Coprosma hirtella. See coffee-berry, 2.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any tree or shrub of the genus Ilex having red berries and shiny evergreen leaves with prickly edges
  • n. United States rock star (1936-1959)

Etymologies

Middle English holin, holi, from Old English holen.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English holly, holi, holie, a shortened variation of holin, holyn (> English dialectal hollen, holm), from Old English holeġn, holen ("holly; prince, protector"), from Proto-Germanic *hulisaz (“butcher's broom”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱol- (“thorn, awn; a kind of thorny plant; prickly”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱel- (“to cut”). Cognate with Scots holin, hollin, holyn ("holly"), Dutch hulst ("holly"), German Hulst ("holly"), French houx ("holly" < Germanic), Danish hylver ("holly"), Welsh celyn ("holly"), Russian  (kolos, "ear of wheat"), Albanian kallí 'straw, chaff', Sanskrit kaţambá 'arrow', Old Church Slavonic kolja 'to prick'. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Holly Holy is a song by Neil Diamond that went to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969.

    February 9, 2008