Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Happy; lucky; fortunate.
  • Good.
  • Simple; artless; innocent; harmless; silly. See silly.
  • Poor; trifling.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete See silly.

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

  • adjective obsolete Lucky, fortunate.
  • adjective obsolete Innocent; harmless.
  • adjective obsolete Pitiable, deserving of sympathy; poor, miserable.
  • adjective obsolete Trifling, insignificant.
  • adjective obsolete Silly, foolish.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English sely, from Old English *sǣliġ ("blessed") (attested only in form ġesǣliġ), from Proto-Germanic *sēlīgaz (“lucky, happy”), equivalent to seel +‎ -y. Cognate with West Frisian sillich, Dutch zalig, German selig. Developed into silly.

Examples

  • Silly (as seely) meant happy, lucky, and blessed, then (as silly) helpless and piteous, then feeble or insignificant, then simple or unsophisticated, before taking on its current meaning.

    Catachresis and the amusing, awful and artificial cathedral

  • The seely Algerian, thinking he had scored a huge success, rushed back to Damascus: where Jemal nearly hanged him for his pains.

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom

  • Of these also the stag is accounted for the most noble game, the fallow deer is the next, then the roe, whereof we have indifferent store, and last of all the hare, not the least in estimation, because the hunting of that seely beast is mother to all the terms, blasts, and artificial devices that hunters do use.

    Chronicle and Romance (The Harvard Classics Series)

  • Wherat the Lord of Mendozza was greatly astonned: and when hee had heard the whole discourse, hee began to conceiue some euill opinion of the duchesse: thinkinge it to be incredible, that the earle of Pancalier woulde so forget himselfe, as to murder his owne proper nephewe and adopted sonne, to be reuenged of a seely woman.

    The Palace of Pleasure, Volume 1

  • Whylst grass doth grow, oft sterves the seely steede.

    Quotations

  • Whylst grass doth grow, oft sterves the seely steede.

    Quotations

  • Whylst grass doth grow, oft sterves the seely steede.

    Quotations

  • Of these also the stag is accounted for the most noble game, the fallow deer is the next, then the roe, whereof we have indifferent store, and last of all the hare, not the least in estimation, because the hunting of that seely beast is mother to all the terms, blasts, and artificial devices that hunters do use.

    Of Savage Beasts and Vermin. Chapter XIV. [1577, Book III., Chapters 7 and 12; 1587, Book III., Chapters 4 and 6

  • It should be noted here that in the Quarto of "Loues Labor's lost," see Plate 22, Page 105, if the heading "Loues Labor's lost" be counted as a line, we read on the 33rd line: "Ba most seely sheepe with a horne: you heare his learning."

    Bacon is Shake-Speare

  • The answer which is given is evidently an incorrect answer, it is "Ba, puericia with a horne added," and the Boy mocks him with "Ba most seely sheepe, with a horne: you heare his learning."

    Bacon is Shake-Speare

Comments

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  • Interesting archaic word with conflicting definitions:

    1. insignificant or feeble; poor.

    2. happy; auspicious.

    3. good; pious; blessed.

    4. foolish; simple-minded.

    Perfect for a backhanded compliment....

    June 20, 2007

  • Seely Posturepedic, now on sale at a discount center near you. Please take advantage of our No-Money-Back Guarantee!!!

    June 20, 2007

  • Which ones are on sale--the auspicious mattresses or the foolish mattresses?

    June 20, 2007

  • Cute, reesetee--as in sharp

    June 20, 2007

  • Our Ernest knows Wordnik's a tool

    To facet a phrase like a jewel.

    What does he mean really

    By calling you seely?

    Is saint what he names you-or fool?

    Find out more about Ernest Bafflewit

    August 3, 2016