Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Used as a disparaging term for an effeminate gay man.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun derogatory, slang An effeminate homosexual man.
  • noun UK, slang A silly person.
  • noun A common name for the giant petrels, Macronectes giganteus and Macronectes halli
  • adjective slang Unmanly, effeminate.
  • noun Cockney rhyming slang Life.

Etymologies

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

[Probably from Nelly, nickname for Helen.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the woman's name, Nelly

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Shortened from Nelly Duff, for puff, i.e. breath of life

Examples

  • Tom, delightful review and I wondered, I really did, if it would be too "nelly" for the intended image.

    Etat Libre d'Orange Tom of Finland

  • "It's the closest part he's ever played to his real self, but the fact that he played it kind of nelly was a big risk."

    A Pirate's Life

  • I sometimes wonder if this need to make gays so "nelly" is merely the obvious reaction to Spanish macho culture: If you cannot be macho, then you'd better be a queen.

    GreenCine Daily

  • I sometimes wonder if this need to make gays so "nelly" is merely the obvious reaction to Spanish macho culture: If you cannot be macho, then you'd better be a queen.

    GreenCine Daily

  • I sometimes wonder if this need to make gays so "nelly" is merely the obvious reaction to Spanish macho culture: If you cannot be macho, then you'd better be a queen.

    GreenCine Daily

  • Finally, sensitive always that some nervous nelly might be reading his piece, he reassures readers that "I also suspect the fallout would be far less damaging and more ephemeral than many might suggest."

    Barry Eisler: The Definition of Insanity

  • Finally, sensitive always that some nervous nelly might be reading his piece, he reassures readers that "I also suspect the fallout would be far less damaging and more ephemeral than many might suggest."

    Barry Eisler: The Definition of Insanity

  • Just far enough to feel like I'm a part of his first day but not so far that I'm an over bearing, nervous nelly mom.

    Jennifer Cullen: Can I Go to High School With My Kid?

  • Finally, sensitive always that some nervous nelly might be reading his piece, he reassures readers that "I also suspect the fallout would be far less damaging and more ephemeral than many might suggest."

    Barry Eisler: The Definition of Insanity

  • Finally, sensitive always that some nervous nelly might be reading his piece, he reassures readers that "I also suspect the fallout would be far less damaging and more ephemeral than many might suggest."

    Barry Eisler: The Definition of Insanity

Comments

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  • There's an Australian expression 'not on your nelly' (or nellie) meaning 'no way, absolutely no'.

    September 9, 2013