Definitions

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

  • adj. Full of good humor and high spirits.
  • adj. Exhibiting or occasioning happiness or mirth; cheerful: a jolly tune.
  • adj. Greatly pleasing; enjoyable: had a jolly time.
  • adv. Chiefly British To a great extent or degree; extremely.
  • transitive v. To keep amused or diverted for one's own purposes; humor.
  • intransitive v. To amuse oneself with humorous banter.
  • n. Chiefly British A good or festive time.
  • n. Slang Amusement; kicks: However you get your jollies is fine with me.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Full of high and merry spirits; jovial.
  • n. a pleasure trip or excursion
  • adv. very, extremely
  • v. To amuse or divert.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Full of life and mirth; jovial; joyous; merry; mirthful.
  • adj. Expressing mirth, or inspiring it; exciting mirth and gayety.
  • adj. Of fine appearance; handsome; excellent; lively; agreeable; pleasant.
  • n. A marine in the English navy.
  • transitive v. To cause to be jolly; to make good-natured; to encourage to feel pleasant or cheerful; -- often implying an insincere or bantering spirit; hence, to poke fun at.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Gay; of fine appearance; handsome; well-conditioned; thriving.
  • Full of life and merriment; jovial; gaily cheerful; festive.
  • Characterized or attended by joviality; expressing or inspiring mirth; exciting mirthfulness or gaiety.
  • Gallant; brave.
  • Great; remarkable; uncommon: as, a jolly muff.
  • Synonyms Jolly, Jovial, Mirthful, Merry, Facetious, playful, funny, sprightly, frolicsome, sportive. Facetious is distinguished from the first four words in applying to the making of witticisms rather than to the continuous flow of contagious good humor easily breaking into laughter. If there is any difference between jolly and jovial, it is that the latter is rather the more dignified of the two. Mirthful and merry imply most of laughter, and jolly stands next in this respect. There is little difference between mirthful and merry, but the former may be the more dignified and the latter the more demonstrative. Merry expresses the largest and freest overflow of animal spirits. See hilarity and mirth.
  • Remarkably; uncommonly; very: as, jolly awkward; jolly drunk.
  • To rejoice; make merry.
  • Slightly exhilarated by drink.
  • Fine; pretty; great; big:used vaguely, often ironically: as, that's a jolly way of doing things; what a jolly fool he looked! a jolly shame.
  • n. Good-natured bantering talk intended to cheer a person or to induce him to comply with the wishes of the speaker.
  • n. A cheer; a hurrah.
  • n. A sham bidder at an auction; a confederate of cheats.
  • n. A British slang name for a marine: not used with reference to United States marines.
  • To make a false offer or bid at an auction.
  • To ridicule; make fun of; chaff.
  • To be jolly or good natured to (a person), with the idea of cheering him up or of getting something out of him; flatter.
  • n. In ceramics, a machine used for making plates; a variety of the jigger. See the extract.
  • n. A jolly-boat.

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

  • n. a happy party
  • v. be silly or tease one another
  • n. a yawl used by a ship's sailors for general work
  • adj. full of or showing high-spirited merriment
  • adv. to a moderately sufficient extent or degree

Etymologies

Middle English joli, from Old French, perhaps of Scandinavian origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English joli, jolif ("merry, cheerful"), from Old French joli, jolif It is uncertain whether the Old French word is from Old Norse jól ("a midwinter feast") [2] (more at yule), in which case, equivalent to yule +‎ -ive; or ultimately from Latin gaudere (more at joy). For the loss of final -f in English compare tardy, hasty. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • You know, I was just what I call a jolly girl when

    This Is the End

  • "Well, that's what I call a jolly good riddance of bad rubbish,"

    My Friend Smith A Story of School and City Life

  • Speak, ye ballroom frequenters, how would you skip, even with the light of brilliant eyes to encourage you, if there were not what you call a jolly good supper somewhere in the background?

    Red Rooney The Last of the Crew

  • He then asked for something to eat, and commenced telling me a variety of stories relative to what he termed jolly parties in his former days; so that the day passed very agreeably.

    The Little Savage

  • He then asked for some thing to eat, and commenced telling me a variety of stories relative to what he termed jolly parties in his former days; so that the day passed very agreeably.

    The Little Savage

  • It can be built, in jolly quick time, when a nation has access to its own MONEY.

    Matthew Yglesias » Books-a-Million

  • It describes at some length and in jolly detail (as do the various links from it, which are also worth following) the ways in which those massive cyber success stories YouTube and Twitter are believed to be losing money hand over fist, currently surviving only on the largesse of venture capitalists and Google (which recently bought YouTube despite it being loss-making).

    p2pnet World Headlines – May 7, 2009

  • Back in jolly old Britain is Deryn Sharp, who is training to be an airman in the British Air Service.

    2009 November « The BookBanter Blog

  • Once upon a time, in jolly old England, under different names, these people were engineers or artists or adventurers or entertainers or maybe gypsies.

    On the way to Oregon: Adventurers settle on Mexico's Bay of Banderas

  • On November 3rd, the DVD/Blu-Ray editions of The Colour of Magic will be released in jolly old England, and other parts of Region 2.

    Tube Bits for 10/28/2008

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