Jolly, adjective meaning upbeat or cheerful and relating to one’s manner or mood. Also used as in ‘ hockey sticks’ or as intensifier, as in ‘good show’. A middle English word from the old french jolif it was used by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, Today the word is inextricably linked to Englishness.
From fruit cakes to dog walks, Blitz spirit and boiled eggs with soldiers, the English love anything that make them feel ‘Jolly”, . Although the word may have been co-opted by Santa and the holidays in the US. It is a characteristically English term at heart. By Putting Jolly in front of any word in the dictionary, you can make yourself sound word in the dictionary, you can make yourself sound a lot like a WAAF from the 1940s or someone in P.G. Wodehouse novel. The word is frequently used to amplify a sentiments of appreciation, as in a ‘Jolly good fellow’ or a ‘a jolly fun night’ while ‘jolly good show’ is used to express admiration for something that has been said or done. The peculiarly idiosyncratic phrase ‘jolly hockey sticks’ refer to particularly hearty, sporty public school girl type as coined by the actress Beryl Reid in a 1950s radio programme Educating Archie. As with the most things in England, there are strong class connotations. Those who utter the word out loud in modern times can often claim membership to the upper echelons of society, but as a sensibility, it is universal.
Jolly denotes a very English kind of cheerfulness that’s something akin to godliness for your average English man or woman. While the idea of a stiff upper lip may be cliche from bygone days, there are still plenty of English folk who’d prefer to talk about the weather than their feelings. A SiRC survey on the emotional state of the nation found that fewer than 20 percent of the population admitted to having expressed an emotion in the previous twenty four hours. By contrast a whooping 56 percent had talked about the weather – in the preceding six hours. This is because the clement climate is safe territory in England. It is never too hot, it’s seldom too cold, there are no natural phenomena to speak of , and we’re blessed with four uninspiringly mild and damp seasons, which other than necessitating wellingtons all year around, cause little concern for the most part. Once, it was windy enough to knock over our wheelie-bins but that was a blip.