- any of a genus (Ilex) of small trees and shrubs of the holly family, with stiff, glossy, sharp-pointed leaves and clusters of bright-red berries
- the leaves and berries, used as Christmas ornaments
Origin of hollyMiddle English holi, holin ; from Old English holegn ; from Indo-European base an unverified form kel-, to prick from source Welsh celyn, holly, Sanskrit kaṫambá-, arrow
- a. Any of numerous evergreen or deciduous trees or shrubs of the genus Ilex, especially several species having bright red berries and glossy evergreen leaves with spiny margins. Also called ilex.b. Branches of these plants, traditionally used for Christmas decoration.
- Any of various similar or related plants.
Origin of hollyMiddle English holin, holi, from Old English holen.
- Any of various shrubs or (mostly) small trees, of the genus Ilex, either evergreen or deciduous, used as decoration especially at Christmas.
- The wood from this tree.
- (with a qualifier) Any of several unrelated plant species likened to Ilex because of their prickly, evergreen foliage and/or round, bright-red berries
From Middle English holly, holi, holie, a shortened variation of holin, holyn (> English dialectal hollen, holm), from Old English holeġn, holen (“holly; prince, protector”), from Proto-Germanic *hulisaz (“butcher's broom”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱol- (“thorn, awn; a kind of thorny plant; prickly”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱel- (“to cut”). Cognate with Scots holin, hollin, holyn (“holly”), Dutch hulst (“holly”), German Hulst (“holly”), French houx ("holly" < Germanic), Danish hylver (“holly”), Welsh celyn (“holly”), Russian колос (kolos, “ear of wheat”), Albanian kalli (“straw, chaff”), Sanskrit कटम्ब (kaṭamba, “arrow”), Old Church Slavonic класъ (klasŭ, “ear of grain”).
- A female given name.
- A topographic surname.
From the holly tree.