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[sil-ee] /ˈsɪl i/
adjective, sillier, silliest.
weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish:
a silly writer.
absurd; ridiculous; irrational:
a silly idea.
stunned; dazed:
He knocked me silly.
Cricket. (of a fielder or the fielder's playing position) extremely close to the batsman's wicket:
silly mid off.
Archaic. rustic; plain; homely.
Archaic. weak; helpless.
Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.
noun, plural sillies.
Informal. a silly or foolish person:
Don't be such a silly.
Origin of silly
late Middle English
1375-1425; earlier sylie, sillie foolish, feeble-minded, simple, pitiful; late Middle English syly, variant of sely seely
Related forms
sillily, adverb
silliness, noun
unsilly, adjective
1. witless, senseless, dull-witted, dim-witted. See foolish. 2. inane, asinine, nonsensical, preposterous.
1. sensible. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sillies
Historical Examples
  • The owner of the parrot bird was a left-over soubrette who had bust in Havana with a road production of The sillies of 1492.

    Lady Luck Hugh Wiley
  • It is just this lot of flatterers and sillies that are ruining her.

    The Camp Fire Girls on a Yacht Margaret Love Sanderson
  • But that she should have been assigned a part in the sillies while yet in High School was a compliment beyond her expectations.

  • So there was a whole lot of sillies bigger than them three sillies at home.

  • So they were married, and if they didn't live happy ever after, that has nothing to do with the story of the three sillies.

    English Fairy Tales Flora Annie Steel
  • But the sillies went and propped up a milk-pan against the window.

    The Wouldbegoods E. Nesbit
  • The casts of the sillies invariably comprise the pick of local talent from the two communities.

  • "Jessie Macpherson says we're a set of sillies," volunteered Betty Scott.

    The School by the Sea Angela Brazil
  • The sillies came all the way here just to be present at the corn roast, and then rushed off without telling us who they were.

    Madge Morton's Trust Amy D. V. Chalmers
  • So there were a whole lot of sillies bigger than the three sillies at home.

British Dictionary definitions for sillies


adjective -lier, -liest
lacking in good sense; absurd
frivolous, trivial, or superficial
dazed, as from a blow
(obsolete) homely or humble
(modifier) (cricket) (of a fielding position) near the batsman's wicket: silly mid-on
(informal) Also called silly-billy, (pl) -lies. a foolish person
Derived Forms
silliness, noun
Word Origin
C15 (in the sense: pitiable, hence the later senses: foolish): from Old English sǣlig (unattested) happy, from sǣl happiness; related to Gothic sēls good
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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Contemporary definitions for sillies

giggles or silliness's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for sillies



Old English gesælig "happy, fortuitous, prosperous" (related to sæl "happiness"), from Proto-Germanic *sæligas (cf. Old Norse sæll "happy," Old Saxon salig, Middle Dutch salich, Old High German salig, German selig "blessed, happy, blissful," Gothic sels "good, kindhearted"), from PIE *sele- "of good mood; to favor," from root *sel- (2) "happy, of good mood; to favor" (cf. Latin solari "to comfort," Greek hilaros "cheerful, gay, merry, joyous").

This is one of the few instances in which an original long e (ee) has become shortened to i. The same change occurs in breeches, and in the American pronunciation of been, with no change in spelling. [Century Dictionary]
The word's considerable sense development moved from "happy" to "blessed" to "pious," to "innocent" (c.1200), to "harmless," to "pitiable" (late 13c.), "weak" (c.1300), to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish" (1570s). Further tendency toward "stunned, dazed as by a blow" (1886) in knocked silly, etc. Silly season in journalism slang is from 1861 (August and September, when newspapers compensate for a lack of hard news by filling up with trivial stories). Silly Putty trademark claims use from July 1949.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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