Definition of bully
- tormented by the neighborhood bully
The earliest meaning of English bully was “sweetheart.” The word was probably borrowed from Dutch boel, “lover.” Later bully was used for anyone who seemed a good fellow, then for a blustering daredevil. Today, a bully is usually one whose claims to strength and courage are based on the intimidation of those who are weaker.
First Known Use: 1538See Words from the same year
that's a bully idea for reviving the town's retail center
He bullied his younger brothers.
children who had been bullied by their father since infancy
First Known Use: 1753See Words from the same year
—used in phrases like bully for you to express approval or praise especially when the approval or praise is not sincere
: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person) : to act like a bully toward (someone)
: to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force
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