Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.

EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB FOR MERRY

His aunt, the Duchess of Savoy, is a merry dame, and a wise!

Now and then, he laughed in a merry way, as if he were bantering her out of something.

Saffy came and went, by no means so merry now that she was more with Corney.

Christmas was a merry day to all but the major, who did not like the engagement any better than before.

He raised his flagon and drank to him, with a merry flash of his white teeth.

Yet, for all my care, things were not merry in the house, and I thought it well to come away.

The gentlemen looked at each other, and Max burst out into a merry laugh.

My home life—if existence in a studio can be so called—was merry.

Dreading a rejection, I solicited the interest of the merry damsel.

No longer in the winter-time, but in the merry month of May.

WORD ORIGIN

Old English myrge "pleasing, agreeable, pleasant, sweet; pleasantly, melodiously," from Proto-Germanic *murgijaz, which probably originally meant "short-lasting," (cf. Old High German murg "short," Gothic gamaurgjan "to shorten"), from PIE *mreghu- "short" (see brief (adj.)). The only exact cognate for meaning outside English was Middle Dutch mergelijc "joyful."

Connection to "pleasure" is likely via notion of "making time fly, that which makes the time seem to pass quickly" (cf. German Kurzweil "pastime," literally "a short time;" Old Norse skemta "to amuse, entertain, amuse oneself," from skamt, neuter of skammr "short"). There also was a verbal form in Old English, myrgan "be merry, rejoice." For vowel evolution, see bury (v.).

The word had much wider senses in Middle English, e.g. "pleasant-sounding" (of animal voices), "fine" (of weather), "handsome" (of dress), "pleasant-tasting" (of herbs). Merry-bout "an incident of sexual intercourse" was low slang from 1780. Merry-begot "illegitimate" (adj.), "bastard" (n.) is from 1785. Merrie England (now frequently satirical or ironic) is 14c. meri ingland, originally in a broader sense of "bountiful, prosperous." Merry Monday was a 16c. term for "the Monday before Shrove Tuesday" (Mardi Gras).

MORE RELATED WORDS FOR MERRY

Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.