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From Middle English joye, from Old French joie, from Late Latin gaudia, neuter plural (mistaken as feminine singular) of gaudium ‎(joy), from gaudēre ‎(to be glad, rejoice). Displaced native Middle English wunne (from Old English wynn), Middle English hight, hught ‎(joy, hope) (from Old English hyht), Middle English rot, root ‎(joy, delight) (from Old English rōt), Middle English murȝe murghe ‎(joy, mirth) (from Old English myrg ‎(joy, mirth)), Middle English gleo ‎(joy, glee) (from Old English glēow, glīw ‎(glee)), Middle English blisse ‎(joy, bliss) (from Old English blisse, blīþs).



joy ‎(countable and uncountable, plural joys)

  1. A feeling of extreme happiness or cheerfulness, especially related to the acquisition or expectation of something good.
    a child's joy on Christmas morning
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
    They will be a source of strength and joy in your life.
  2. Anything that causes such a feeling.
    the joys and demands of parenthood
    • Bible, 1 Thess. ii. 20
      Ye are our glory and joy.
    • Keats
      A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
  3. Luck or success; a positive outcome.
    • Colin Owen, Colin's Shorts (volume 2, page 65)
      Grant had no joy with taking a nap, so he began to systematically feel if everything was working: fingers and toes, etc.
    • 2012, Robert Stansbridge, Bia's Wedding (page 4)
      'Rob? It's Gary. Are you having any joy with this trip to Bali?' 'No joy at all, mate. I reckon Bali's out for the foreseeable future. []
  4. (obsolete) The sign or exhibition of joy; gaiety; merriment; festivity.
    • Spenser
      Such joy made Una, when her knight she found.
    • Dryden
      The roofs with joy resound.


Derived terms[edit]



joy ‎(third-person singular simple present joys, present participle joying, simple past and past participle joyed)

  1. (intransitive) To feel joy, to rejoice.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book XVII, chapter ix:
      for oftymes or this oure lord shewed hym vnto good men and vnto good knyghtes in lykenes of an herte But I suppose from hens forth ye shalle see no more / and thenne they Ioyed moche / and dwelled ther alle that day / And vpon the morowe whan they had herde masse / they departed and commaunded the good man to god
    • 1885, Sir Richard Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Night 18:
      I swore readily enough to this and he joyed with exceeding joy and embraced me round the neck while love for him possessed my whole heart.
  2. (transitive, archaic) To enjoy.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, IV.i.2:
      For from the time that Scudamour her bought, / In perilous fight, she neuer ioyed day [].
    • Milton
      Who might have lived and joyed immortal bliss.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To give joy to; to congratulate.
    • Dryden
      Joy us of our conquest.
    • Prior
      To joy the friend, or grapple with the foe.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To gladden; to make joyful; to exhilarate.
    • Shakespeare
      Neither pleasure's art can joy my spirits.