1. (Science: botany) a tree or shrub of the genus ilex. The European species (ilex Aguifolium) is best known, having glossy green leaves, with a spiny, waved edge, and bearing berries that turn red or yellow about michaelmas.
The holly is much used to adorn churches and houses, at christmas time, and hence is associated with scenes of good will and rejoicing. It is an evergreen tree, and has a finegrained, heavy, white wood. Its bark is used as a febrifuge, and the berries are violently purgative and emetic. The American holly is the ilex opaca, and is found along the coast of the united states, from Maine southward.