July 11, 2016
- silly (adjective)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : weak in mind: foolish2 : not showing common sense or good judgment : absurd3 : lacking seriousness or importance4 : being stunned or dazed
- How do you use it?
- Zach tried everything to make his baby cousin stop crying until he finally discovered that making silly faces and funny noises worked.
- Are you a word wiz?
The current meanings of "silly" are the result of a long string of sense changes. When do you think "silly" began this journey of transformation?There was nothing silly about picking D as the right answer. "Silly" derives from an Old English word that meant "happy," "blessed," or "fortunate." It took on new meanings when it was adapted into Middle English as "sely." "Sely" first meant "innocent" or "harmless," then "pitiable" or "helpless," and finally "miserable" or "unfortunate," which was the complete opposite of the meaning of the Old English word. The medieval "innocent, harmless" sense developed into "simple" or "gullible." In early modern English, it took on the "lacking in sound judgment" meaning and other meanings that it carries today.