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silly

[sil-ee] /ˈsɪl i/
adjective, sillier, silliest.
1.
weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish:
a silly writer.
2.
absurd; ridiculous; irrational:
a silly idea.
3.
stunned; dazed:
He knocked me silly.
4.
Cricket. (of a fielder or the fielder's playing position) extremely close to the batsman's wicket:
silly mid off.
5.
Archaic. rustic; plain; homely.
6.
Archaic. weak; helpless.
7.
Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.
noun, plural sillies.
8.
Informal. a silly or foolish person:
Don't be such a silly.
Origin
late Middle English
1375-1425
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
Synonyms
1. witless, senseless, dull-witted, dim-witted. See foolish. 2. inane, asinine, nonsensical, preposterous.
Antonyms
1. sensible.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for silly
  • Frustratingly, there are plenty of silly story elements that mar the program.
  • They had known each other since eighth grade, sharing the silly private jokes that only longtime pals know.
  • Throwing money at it without a plan to actually improve it is silly.
  • It is a predatory industry with far-reaching consequences that can't be quantified in a silly study masquerading as science.
  • Meanwhile, even the silly freeway theory trumps this one.
  • silly to say that a scientist shouldn't care what is causing global warming.
  • Cherry picking elite dyslexics is silly and grasping at straws.
  • The filmmakers could have easily invented entirely new particles for the job-call them bambinos, say-but perhaps that's too silly.
  • To accept and embrace physical discomfort as the path to manhood is not silly at all.
  • We don't need silly animated graphs or talking heads.
British Dictionary definitions for silly

silly

/ˈsɪlɪ/
adjective -lier, -liest
1.
lacking in good sense; absurd
2.
frivolous, trivial, or superficial
3.
feeble-minded
4.
dazed, as from a blow
5.
(obsolete) homely or humble
noun
6.
(modifier) (cricket) (of a fielding position) near the batsman's wicket: silly mid-on
7.
(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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Word Origin and History for silly
adj.

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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