(redirected from making merry)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Idioms.
Related to making merry: irreparably


In contemporary English the word "merry" means "jolly," "cheerful," "lively," or "happy." Few people realize, however, that it once meant something slightly different. At the time the English coined the phrase "Merry Christmas," merry meant "pleasant," "delightful," or "joyful." Thus, at that time, the well-known phrase "merry England" did not mean "jolly England," but rather "pleasant" or "delightful" England. When used to describe a holiday, the word "merry" signaled that it was a time of festivity or rejoicing.

In greeting one another with the phrase "Merry Christmas," the English were wishing each other a festive and joyful holiday. The sixteenth-century English Christmas carol, "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," offers another example of this usage. Contemporary English speakers often interpret the title of this song to mean something like "God Rest You, Jolly Gentlemen." In fact, the comma separating "merry" from "gentlemen" in the original phrase tells us that in this context "merry" does not function as an adjective describing the gentlemen in question. In the sixteenth century, "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" meant "God Rest You Joyfully, Gentlemen" or, as contemporary English speakers might be more likely to say, "God Keep You Joyous, Gentlemen" (for the phrase "Merry Christmas" in differentlanguages, see Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).

Further Reading

Weiser, Francis X. The Christmas Book. 1952. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1990.
References in periodicals archive ?
SPARTA MAESTRO bk d Jan 10 Brett Lee Crash Elusive Rebel Droopys Kewell Gun Law Osti Sobbing Sal Bobniak Secret Bride Larkhill Jo Perrys Pusher Toms The Best Tinrah Princess Tinrah Kewell Making Merry
And in-between, There comes a time when goblins can be seen, Having fun and making Merry Halloween.
He escaped from prison and spent many years making merry in Brazil.
Such direct approach is required to solve global woes, not meeting at some cosy location and making merry at taxpayers' expense.
Making merry often is synonymous with overindulging--whether from holiday feasts or rich desserts or alcoholic beverages.
As mentioned in the booklet's epilogue, this new release issued by Chico Alvarez y Nosotros "contains one of those rare and long lost recordings, a piece of musical history that has been preserved for posterity and etched in the memory of us all, a testament to an obscure group of unsung heroes, led by their collective instinct for making merry music and their passion for making it the right way.
THREE gangs of indie kids with guitars will be making merry musical mayhem at the Ku Bar in Stockton tonight.
One reviewer wrote Gervais had: "An amazing knack for taking an unpromising idea and then making merry with it.
On top of it all, I had arranged to chat to Victor Spinetti and the thought of making merry when I didn't have the time or the inclination put me in a spin.
SANTA CLARITA - 'Tis the season for making merry, giving gifts and, if you're the congregation of one local church, for adopting single mothers, their children and an office.
In mid-afternoon on April 21st, as the Mexican troops indulged in their siesta, and Santa Anna was making merry with a prostitute, Houston attacked.