Definitions

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

  • adj. Full of high-spirited gaiety; jolly.
  • adj. Marked by or offering fun and gaiety; festive: a merry evening.
  • adj. Archaic Delightful; entertaining.
  • adj. Brisk: a merry pace.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Jolly and full of high spirits
  • adj. Festive and full of fun and laughter
  • adj. Brisk
  • adj. happy or showing enjoyment

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Laughingly gay; overflowing with good humor and good spirits; jovial; inclined to laughter or play; sportive.
  • adj. Cheerful; joyous; not sad; happy.
  • adj. Causing laughter, mirth, gladness, or delight.
  • n. A kind of wild red cherry.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Exciting feelings of enjoyment and. gladness; causing cheerfulness or light-heartedness; pleasant; delightful; happy: as, the merry month of May; a merry spectacle.
  • Playfully cheerful or gay; enlivened with gladness or good spirits; mirthful in speech or action; frolicsome; hilarious; jubilant: as, a merry company.
  • Sportive and mirthful in quality or character; jocund; jovial; rollicking; funny: as, a merry heart; a merry song.
  • Brisk; lively; cheery.
  • Full of gibes: sneering; sarcastic.
  • To make merry or glad; please; gratify; delight.
  • Merrily; in a lively manner.
  • n. The wild cherry of England, Prunus avium.

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

  • adj. quick and energetic
  • adj. full of or showing high-spirited merriment
  • adj. offering fun and gaiety

Etymologies

Middle English merri, from Old English mirige, pleasant; see mregh-u- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English merie, mirie, myrie, murie, murȝe, from Old English meriġe, miriġe, myriġe, myreġe, myrġe ("pleasing, agreeable; pleasant, sweet, delightful; melodious"), from Proto-Germanic *murguz (“short, slow”), from Proto-Indo-European *mréǵʰus (“short”). Cognate with Scots mery, mirry ("merry"), Old High German murg, murgi ("short, brief"; > German murk ("short, lazy")), Norwegian dialectal myrjel ("small object, figurine"), Latin brevis ("short, small, narrow, shallow"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Mother shakes the cherry-tree,
    Susan catch a cherry;
    Oh how funny that will be,
    Let's be merry!

    - Christina Rossetti, 'Let's Be Merry'.

    November 1, 2008

  • You could wed Mary on Chrismtas Day and go for the trifecta.

    August 22, 2008

  • For some people, Mary, merry, and marry all sound different. For others, they sound the same. You can see a map of this phenomenon (in the US) here.

    April 10, 2008