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merry


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Cheerful and lively; especially in a number of fixed phrases.

it is merry in hall when beards wag all proverbial saying, early 14th century, meaning ‘when conversation is in full flow’.

Merry England England, originally as characterized by a pleasant landscape; (sometimes ironically, and with the pseudo-archaic spelling merrie England) England characterized by the cheerfulness or animation of its people, especially in a past golden age.

Merry Men in the legends of Robin Hood, a name given to his followers.

Merry Monarch a nickname of Charles II, deriving originally from a poem by Rochester (1647–80): ‘A merry monarch, scandalous and poor’.

Merry Widow an amorous or designing widow, from the English name of Franz Lehár's operetta Die Lustige Witwe, first produced in German in Vienna in 1905, and in English in London, 1907. The musical-comedy actress Lily Elsie (1886–1962), appearing in London in the title role, wore an ornate wide-brimmed hat designed by Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon (‘Lucile’); Merry Widow hats are named from this.

See also a cherry year, a merry year, lead someone a merry dance.


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