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Alternative forms[edit]


  • IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒɛl.i/
  • Rhymes: -ɛli
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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English gele, from Old French gelee (frost), from early Medieval Latin gelāta, from Latin gelāre (freeze).


jelly (countable and uncountable, plural jellies)

  1. (New Zealand, Australia, Britain) A dessert made by boiling gelatine, sugar and some flavouring (often derived from fruit) and allowing it to set, known as "jello" in North America.
  2. (Canada, US, Britain (certain specific usages)) A clear or translucent fruit preserve, made from fruit juice and set using either naturally occurring, or added, pectin. Normally known as "jam" in Commonwealth English but see redcurrant jelly and jeely
    • 1945, Fannie Merritt Farmer and Wilma Lord Perkins (revisor), The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, Eighth edition:
      Perfect jelly is of appetizing flavor; beautifully colored and translucent; tender enough to cut easily with a spoon, yet firm enough to hold its shape when turned from the glass.
    • 1975, Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, The Joy of Cooking, 5th revision:
      Jelly has great clarity. Two cooking processes are involved. First, the juice alone is extracted from the fruit. Only that portion thin and clear enough to drip through a cloth is cooked with sugar until sufficiently firm to hold its shape. It is never stiff and never gummy.
  3. (Caribbean, Jamaica) Clipping of jelly coconut.
  4. A savoury substance, derived from meat, that has the same texture as the dessert.
  5. Any substance or object having the consistency of jelly.
    calf's-foot jelly
    • 1821, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, volume 8, page 67:
      Sam floored him perpetually, and beat his face to a jelly, without getting a scratch.
    • 1900 December – 1901 August, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “chapter 24”, in The First Men in the Moon, London: George Newnes, [], published 1901, →OCLC:
      [] some of the profounder scholars are altogether too great for locomotion, and are carried from place to place in a sort of sedan tub, wabbling jellies of knowledge that enlist my respectful astonishment.
  6. (zoology) A jellyfish.
    • 2014, Theo Tait; ‘Water-Borne Zombies’, London Review of Books, volume 36, number 5:
      Species of the phylum Cnidaria – the classic jelly – have existed in something close to their current form for at least 565 million years; Ctenophora, the comb jellies, are not much younger.
  7. (slang, now rare) A pretty girl; a girlfriend.
    • 1931, William Faulkner, Sanctuary, Vintage, published 1993, page 25:
      ‘Gowan goes to Oxford a lot,’ the boy said. ‘He′s got a jelly there.’
  8. (US, slang) A large backside, especially a woman's.
    • 2001, Destiny's Child, “Bootylicious” (song)
      I shake my jelly at every chance / When I whip with my hips you slip into a trance
    • 2001, George Dell, Dance Unto the Lord, page 94:
      At that Sister Samantha seemed to shake her jelly so that she sank back into her chair.
  9. (colloquial) Clipping of gelignite.
  10. (colloquial) A jelly shoe.
    • 2006, David L. Marcus, What It Takes to Pull Me Through:
      Mary Alice gazed at a picture of herself wearing jellies and an oversized turquoise T-shirt that matched her eyes []
  11. (colloquial, US) Blood.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
  • Chickasaw: cheliꞌ, jellꞌ


jelly (third-person singular simple present jellies, present participle jellying, simple past and past participle jellied)

  1. (transitive) To make into jelly.
  2. (transitive) To preserve in jelly.
  3. To wiggle like jelly. (Can we add an example for this sense?)

Etymology 2[edit]

Clipping of jealous +‎ -y (informal adjective ending).


jelly (comparative more jelly, superlative most jelly)

  1. (slang) Jealous.
    • 2011 February 28, Abby Normal [username], “Re: OT VERY FUNNY: MY NEW HERO CHARLIE SHEEN”, in[1] (Usenet):
      If the guy wants to party and bang porn stars, and he's not hurting anyone who really cares?
      I think a lot of guys are just jelly! :-)
    • 2011, "Exchange smiles, not saliva", The Banner (Grand Blanc High School), Volume 47, Issue 2, December 2011, page 17:
      "I think other people make rude comments because they're jelly [jealous] bro," Schroer said. "We're just showing our love to other people."
    • 2012 January 10, pussykatt [username], “BLIND GOSSIP 01/09/12 **BLIND ITEM 2**”, in alt.gossip.celebrities[2] (Usenet):
      Shame on all you haters out there! You’re all just jelly!
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:jelly.

Etymology 3[edit]

This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.
Particularly: “Hobson-Jobson: "It would appear from a remark of C. P. Brown (MS. notes) to be Telugu zalli, Tamil shalli, which means properly 'shivers, bits, pieces.'"”


jelly (uncountable)

  1. (India) Vitrified brick refuse used as metal in building roads.
    • 1862, Notes on Building and Road-making, with Rules for Estimating Repairs to Tanks and Channels, page 143:
      Under pinning with jelly in chunam — one square.