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[nel-ee] /ˈnɛl i/
noun, Australian Slang.
inferior or cheap wine.
Origin of nelly
1940-45; of uncertain origin


or Nelly

[nel-ee] /ˈnɛl i/
a female given name, form of Helen.
(often lowercase) Slang.
  1. Offensive. a fussily effeminate male.
  2. Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a male homosexual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nelly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I think that your return has recompensed nelly for everything.

    The Bramleighs Of Bishop's Folly Charles James Lever
  • "You must be calm, nelly, dear; you mustn't excite yourself," she chirped anxiously.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • nelly is fond of her books, I see, and I am happy to know that she can have an opportunity to study them every day.

  • Of course, as fast as I can lay hands on them, I'm destroying every likeness of the old nelly.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • He amazed Robin Drummond by his cordiality in those days, and the young fellow commented on it whimsically to nelly herself.

    Mary Gray Katharine Tynan
British Dictionary definitions for nelly


(sentence substitute) (Brit, slang) not under any circumstances; certainly not
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 nelly


fem. proper name, also Nellie, diminutive of Nell, a pet form of Ellen, Helen, or Eleanor. Meaning "weak-spirited person" is first attested 1961.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nelly



  1. Homosexual; effeminate; gay, swish: Well, his backstroke is a little Nellie/ what in the past would have been described as a Nelly queen
  2. Overfastidious; finicky; schoolmarmish: ''As follow'' is Nellie usage and probably incorrect (1960s+)

Related Terms

nervous nellie

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with nelly


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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