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[mer-ee] /ˈmɛr i/
adjective, merrier, merriest.
full of cheerfulness or gaiety; joyous in disposition or spirit:
a merry little man.
laughingly happy; mirthful; festively joyous; hilarious:
a merry time at the party.
Archaic. causing happiness; pleasant; delightful.
make merry,
  1. to be happy or festive:
    The New Year's revelers were making merry in the ballroom.
  2. to make fun of; ridicule:
    The unthinking children made merry of the boy who had no shoes.
Origin of merry
before 900; Middle English meri(e), myrie, murie, Old English myr(i)ge, mer(i)ge pleasant, delightful
Related forms
merrily, adverb
merriness, noun
overmerrily, adverb
overmerriness, noun
overmerry, adjective
unmerrily, adverb
unmerry, adjective
Can be confused
marry, Mary, merry.
1. happy, blithe, blithesome, frolicsome, cheery, glad. See gay. 2. jolly, jovial, gleeful.
1. sad. 2. solemn.


[mer-ee] /ˈmɛr i/
a female given name. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for merry
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They had such a merry time that Fleetfoot could not keep still.

    The Later Cave-Men Katharine Elizabeth Dopp
  • Now and then, he laughed in a merry way, as if he were bantering her out of something.

    To be Read at Dusk Charles Dickens
  • As I was saying, why should I pretend to be pensive and doleful, when I am as merry as a lark?

    Husks Marion Harland
  • Yet, for all my care, things were not merry in the house, and I thought it well to come away.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • My father, Mr. merry, the Spanish minister, are all men of affairs.

British Dictionary definitions for merry


adjective -rier, -riest
cheerful; jolly
very funny; hilarious
(Brit, informal) slightly drunk
(archaic) delightful
make merry, to revel; be festive
(informal) play merry hell with, to disturb greatly; disrupt
Derived Forms
merrily, adverb
merriness, noun
Word Origin
Old English merige agreeable
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for merry

Old English myrge "pleasing, agreeable, pleasant, sweet; pleasantly, melodiously," from Proto-Germanic *murgijaz, which probably originally meant "short-lasting," (cf. Old High German murg "short," Gothic gamaurgjan "to shorten"), from PIE *mreghu- "short" (see brief (adj.)). The only exact cognate for meaning outside English was Middle Dutch mergelijc "joyful."

Connection to "pleasure" is likely via notion of "making time fly, that which makes the time seem to pass quickly" (cf. German Kurzweil "pastime," literally "a short time;" Old Norse skemta "to amuse, entertain, amuse oneself," from skamt, neuter of skammr "short"). There also was a verbal form in Old English, myrgan "be merry, rejoice." For vowel evolution, see bury (v.).

Bot vchon enle we wolde were fyf, þe mo þe myryer. [c.1300]
The word had much wider senses in Middle English, e.g. "pleasant-sounding" (of animal voices), "fine" (of weather), "handsome" (of dress), "pleasant-tasting" (of herbs). Merry-bout "an incident of sexual intercourse" was low slang from 1780. Merry-begot "illegitimate" (adj.), "bastard" (n.) is from 1785. Merrie England (now frequently satirical or ironic) is 14c. meri ingland, originally in a broader sense of "bountiful, prosperous." Merry Monday was a 16c. term for "the Monday before Shrove Tuesday" (Mardi Gras).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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