For he’s a jolly good fellow

Recently, someone asked me about the word “fellow.” Since it has several meanings and can be confusing, I thought I’d talk a little bit about it here.

First, it is used for someone who is in the same position, doing the same activity, or is involved in the same things as you are. If I were speaking to a group of other podcasters, I may greet them by saying, “Hello, fellow podcasters.” If you are a university student and you are speaking about yourself and other students, you may say: “I and my fellow students believe that our fees are too high.” Several U. S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, have used the phrase “my fellow Americans” in their speeches to the American people.

A “fellow” can also be a university student or graduate who receives a fellowship, a type of scholarship, or money given to pay for school tuition (money required to attend a school) or other expenses. You can

have “research fellows,” “graduate fellows,” “visiting fellows” (from other universities or academic organizations), or just “fellows.”

Finally, “fellow” is an informal and old-fashioned term for a boy or a man. Here are a couple of examples:
– “Look at that fellow over there. He’s going swimming in that cold lake!”
– “If you fellows will excuse me, I need to leave now.”

In fact, there is a very well-known song called “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” sung to congratulate someone when a significant event happens, such as a promotion (getting a higher-level job), retirement (when one reaches an age where one can stop working), or winning a competition. Like the “Happy Birthday to You” song, it’s usually sung by everyone in the room in unison (at the same time). The lyrics (words) are very simple:

For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow
For he’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny
Which nobody can deny, which nobody can deny
For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow
For he’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny!

In this case, “jolly” means “very” (this is an old-fashioned usage) and to “deny” is to say that something isn’t true or to refuse to admit the truth. No one would deny that the sky is blue or that Jeff is the best singer in the world, would they?

Although this song is meant for men/boys, I’ve heard this song sung to women, substituting “she” for “he,” of course. So the next time you have a friend with something to celebrate, perhaps you can surprise him or her with this song!

Are there songs of congratulations sung in other languages?



For he’s a jolly good fellow