JOLLY (from O. Fr. jolif; Fr. joli, the French word is obscure in origin; it may be from late Lat. gaudivus, from gaudere, to rejoice, the change of d to I being paralleled by cigada and cigale, or from O. Norse jol, Eng. " yule," the northern festival of midwinter) , and adjective meaning gay, cheerful, jovial, high-spirited. The colloquial use of the term as an intensive adverb, meaning extremely, very, was in early usage quite literary; thus John Trapp (1601-1669), Commentaries on the New Testament, Matthew (1647), writes, " All was jolly quiet at Ephesus before St Paul came hither." In the royal navy " jolly " used as a substantive, is the slang name for a marine. To " jolly " is a slang synonym for " chaff." The word " jollyboat," the name of a ship's small broad boat, usually clinkerbuilt, is of doubtful etymology. It occurs in English in the 18th century, and is usually connected with Dan. or Swed. jolle, Dutch jol, a small ship's boat; these words are properly represented in English by " yawl " originally a ship's small boat, now chiefly used of a rig of sailing vessels, with a cutter-rigged foremast and a small mizzen stepped far aft, with a spanker sail (see RIGGING). A connexion has been suggested with a word of much earlier appearance in English, jolywat, or gellywatte. This occurs at the end of the 15th century and is used of a smaller type of ship's boat. This is supposed to be a corruption of the French galiote or Dutch galjoot, galliot (see GALLEY). The galliot was, however, a large vessel.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)