from Middle English sely, from Old English sǣliġ (“blessed, fortunate”), (also gesǣliġ (“happy, prosperous, blessed, fortunate”)), from Proto-Germanic *sēlīgaz (“happy”), equivalent to seel + -y. Cognate with West Frisian sillich, Dutch zalig (“blessed”), German selig (“blessed, overjoyed”).
- Obsolete form of silly.
- (archaic) spiritually favored, blessed, holy, virtuous, righteous
- Sely is þe bareyn & þe vndefouled. — Wycliffite Bible (early version)
- (archaic) worthy, noble, fine, excellent
- the sely man — the goodman, husband
- (archaic) fortunate, lucky, prosperous
- Now at erste shul ye here So sely an avisyon That..Scipion..Ne mette such a drem. — Chaucer,
- (archaic) happy, pleasant
- (archaic) wealthy (figurative)
- (archaic) innocent, harmless; good
- (archaic) simple, guileless; foolish, gullible; doting; ignorant
- for þis ende þise flatiryng gloosars ... cacchen awey þe goodis of þise celi widowis. — The Lantern of Light (Wycliffite tract), 1425
- (archaic) weak, helpless, defenseless, hapless
- (archaic) wretched, unfortunate, miserable, pitiable
- (archaic) humble, lowly, poor
- (archaic) worthless, trifling, insignificant
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for sely in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)
- Middle English Dictionary