Alternative formsEdit


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).


sely (comparative selier, superlative seliest)

  1. Obsolete form of silly.
  2. (archaic) spiritually favored, blessed, holy, virtuous, righteous
    • Sely is þe bareyn & þe vndefouled. — Wycliffite Bible (early version)
  3. (archaic) worthy, noble, fine, excellent;
    • the sely man — the goodman, husband
  4. (archaic) fortunate, lucky, prosperous
    • Now at erste shul ye here So sely an avisyon That..Scipion..Ne mette such a drem. — Chaucer,
  5. (archaic) happy, pleasant
  6. (archaic) wealthy (figurative)
  7. (archaic) innocent, harmless; good
  8. (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
  9. (archaic) weak, helpless, defenseless, hapless
  10. (archaic) wretched, unfortunate, miserable, pitiable
  11. (archaic) humble, lowly, poor
  12. (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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.

  • Middle English Dictionary