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  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɒli

Etymology 1[edit]

Euphemism for God, dating from the 18th century. Possibly a compaction of “God′s body”.

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. (euphemistic) God! [From 1775.]
    • 1898, The Overland Monthly, page 511,
      Golly! What would dad say if I did marry him?”
    • 1906, B. M. Bower, Chip of the Flying U[1], page 88:
      “By golly, I don′t see how you done that without seein′ it happen,” exclaimed Slim, looking very dazed and mystified.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter I, VIII, and X:
      “Got anybody else staying at the old snake pit?” “Five inmates in all.” “Five?” I resumed my tongue-clicking. “Golly! Uncle Tom must be frothing at the mouth a bit,” I said, for I knew the old buster's distaste for guests in the home. Even a single weekender is sometimes enough to make him drain the bitter cup.
      “Bertie! Your manner is strange.” “Your manner would be strange if you'd been sitting on the floor of Wilbert Cream's sleeping apartment with a chair round your neck, and Ma Cream had come in.” “Golly! Did she?” “In person.”
      “And after I had seethed for a bit I rose from my chair, took pen in hand and wrote Bobbie a stinker.” “Oh, gosh!” “I put my whole soul into it.” “Oh, golly!”

Etymology 2[edit]

From golliwog.


golly (plural gollies)

  1. Abbreviation of golliwog:
    1. A type of black rag doll.
      • 1985, New Society, Volumes 71-72, page 4,
        There are pictures of the original “gollywogg” (thus spelt) from Florence Upton′s 19th century children′s books; there are examples of anti-semitic Edwardian gollies with huge noses, and all sorts of other curiosities.
      • 2007, Richard Littlejohn, Littlejohn′s Britain, page 162,
        The Golliwog Squad was also making itself busy in Worthing, Sussex. Police said they were treating as a matter of ‘priority’ a complaint about gollies being displayed in a local store. Owner John Scadgell faced charges under Section 2 of the Public Order Act, which makes it an offence to exhibit anything which could be considered threatening, abusive or insulting.
    2. (offensive, ethnic slur) Any dark skinned person.
      • 2005, Richard Snailham, The Blue Nile Revealed: The Story of the Great Abbai Expedition, 1968, page 217,
        “Bloody gollies!” muttered David Bromhead, provoked by the assault into bitter xenophobia.
      • 2008, Theo van Leeuwen, Discourse and Practice: New Tools for Critical Analysis, page 137,
        [] poked fun at the American “fashion” of “political correctness” and reassured viewers that gollies and black minstrel shows are just good, old-fashioned, innocent fun.

Etymology 3[edit]

Nonstandard diminutive of galosh.


golly (plural gollies)

  1. (Britain) A galosh.

Etymology 4[edit]

Possibly from Goliath.
This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.


golly (third-person singular simple present gollies, present participle gollying, simple past and past participle gollied)

  1. (Australia, juvenile) To spit; to force up phlegm from one's throat.
    • 2010, Marion Houldsworth, The Morning Side of the Hill: Growing Up in Townsville in World War II, revised edition, page 113,
      When he saw what was happening he threw down his bag, gollied up some phlegm, and spat into the sand.


golly (plural gollies)

  1. (Australian slang, juvenile) Chewing gum.
  2. (Australian slang, juvenile) Saliva or phlegm.
    hack up a golly
    • 2011, Douglas Booth, Surfing: The Ultimate Guide[2], page 10:
      They had to have a spitting competition. They had to hack gollies at each other′s heads. [] (Abraham 1999, 53)

Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 5

Possibly from the Swahili for "expensive," [ghali] uttered when a potential slave buyer thought a slave's price was too high.