Definition of holly in English:


Pronunciation /ˈhälē/ /ˈhɑli/

Translate holly into Spanish


  • A widely distributed shrub, typically having prickly dark green leaves, small white flowers, and red berries. There are several deciduous species of holly but the evergreen hollies are more typical and familiar.

    Genus Ilex, family Aquifoliaceae: many species, in particular the American holly (I. opaca), known as the Christmas holly. See also gallberry, winterberry, yaupon

    ‘Both deciduous and evergreen hollies are much loved for their berries, which range in color from orange and red to yellow and black.’
    • ‘And then there are the usual green plants with red berries such as hollies and barberry, and old garden roses with showy hips.’
    • ‘Some popular small trees and shrubs with birds are: blueberries, elderberries, hollies, cherries, and dogwoods.’
    • ‘Some hollies have orange berries rather than red, as does Pyracantha (firethorn).’
    • ‘Severe winter conditions, and sometimes soil deficiencies, may cause physiological problems such as sunscald and purple spot on the leaves of evergreen hollies.’
    • ‘Their broadly indented margins show the distinctive prickly spines that are typical of most evergreen hollies - and dangerous to bare feet!’
    • ‘Evergreens and shrubs - including junipers and hollies - offer protection.’
    • ‘Japanese hollies seldom require much pruning in our area.’
    • ‘If you order one, make sure to also order a mate for it, since hollies come in males and females - and it takes both to make berries.’
    • ‘This month, nurseries will be offering dozens of hollies, many in full berry.’
    • ‘Most hollies are either male or female and need to have a nearby partner for good crop of berries to be produced, I suspect this is why ours crops so erratically.’
    • ‘The flowers are fairly small but numerous and are a satisfying contrast with the dark leaves of the holly tree.’
    • ‘Winter birds prefer evergreens like holly and junipers, which provide shelter and food.’
    • ‘These days, we use the holly primarily as a structural evergreen shrub.’
    • ‘The holly's convex, glossy leaves contrast nicely with the Korean boxwood's flat, oval, lighter green leaves.’
    • ‘The sharp, prickly leaves provide an effective deterrent, and the holly can be removed after a few weeks.’
    • ‘Avoid prickly leaves like holly or ones that are extremely fragile.’
    • ‘We bought what appeared to be a healthy holly tree, planted it in a large pot and placed it on our patio.’
    • ‘If you simply must have an evergreen, then what about a variegated holly?’
    • ‘Every garden should have holly with berries for Christmas.’


Middle English holi, shortened form of Old English holegn, holen, of Germanic origin; related to German Hulst.