Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

surly

play
adjective sur·ly \ˈsər-lē\

Simple Definition of surly

  • : rude and unfriendly

Full Definition of surly

sur·li·ersur·li·est

  1. 1 :  menacing or threatening in appearance <surly weather>

  2. 2 obsolete :  arrogant, imperious

  3. 3 :  irritably sullen and churlish in mood or manner :  crabbed

sur·li·ly play \-lə-lē\ adverb
sur·li·ness play \-lē-nəs\ noun
surly adverb

Examples of surly

  1. <went about his chores in a surly huff, totally annoyed that he was stuck at home on this beautiful Saturday>

  2. <the surly receptionist told us we'd have to wait outside in the rain>



Origin of surly

alteration of Middle English serreli lordly, imperious, probably from sire, ser sire


First Known Use: 1523

Synonym Discussion of surly

sullen, glum, morose, surly, sulky, crabbed, saturnine, gloomy mean showing a forbidding or disagreeable mood. sullen implies a silent ill humor and a refusal to be sociable <remained sullen amid the festivities>. glum suggests a silent dispiritedness <a glum candidate left to ponder a stunning defeat>. morose adds to glum an element of bitterness or misanthropy <morose job seekers who are inured to rejection>. surly implies gruffness and sullenness of speech or manner <a typical surly teenager>. sulky suggests childish resentment expressed in peevish sullenness <grew sulky after every spat>. crabbed applies to a forbidding morose harshness of manner <the school's notoriously crabbed headmaster>. saturnine describes a heavy forbidding aspect or suggests a bitter disposition <a saturnine cynic always finding fault>. gloomy implies a depression in mood making for seeming sullenness or glumness <a gloomy mood ushered in by bad news>.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up surly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift pince-nez duvet kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ