General English

  • adjective stupid in an annoying way


  • adjective (of a fielder or fielding position) extremely close to the batsman; very short
    Citation ‘Gatting took two catches at short extra and forward short leg, positioned some yards farther from the bat than the “silly” helmeted situations now in favour’ (Robin Marlar, Sunday Times 28 August 1983)
    Citation ‘Instead of patting it back, the little man cracked an audacious square cut that raced away to the boundary, the silly-point fielder looking both silly and pointless as he ducked for cover’ (Bhattacharya 2006)


  • adjective used for describing a fielder or fielding position very close to the batsman, closer than a similar position described as ‘short’

Origin & History of “silly”

In one of the more celebrated semantic volte-faces in the history of the English lexicon, silly has been transformed over the past millennium from ‘blessed, happy’ to ‘stupid’. The word goes back ultimately to a prehistoric west Germanic *sǣliga, a derivative of *sǣli ‘luck, happiness’. It reached Old English as gesǣlig, still meaning ‘happy’, but as it evolved formally in middle English through seely to silly, its meaning developed via ‘blessed’, ‘pious’, ‘innocent, harmless’, ‘pitiable’, and ‘feeble’ to ‘feeble in mind, foolish’. The related German selig retains its original meaning ‘happy, blessed’.