1

bully

play
noun bul·ly \ˈbu̇-lē, ˈbə-\

Definition of bully

plural

bullies

  1. 1 archaic a :  sweetheart b :  a fine chap

  2. 2 a :  a blustering browbeating person; especially :  one habitually cruel to others who are weaker b :  pimp

  3. 3 :  a hired ruffian

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of bully

probably from Middle Dutch boele lover; akin to Middle Low German bōle lover, Middle High German buole


First Known Use: 1538


2

bully

adjective bul·ly

Definition of bully

  1. 1 :  excellent —often used in interjectional expressions <bully for you>

  2. 2 :  resembling or characteristic of a bully

Examples of bully in a sentence

  1. <that's a bully idea for reviving the town's retail center>

1609

First Known Use of bully

1609


3

bully

verb bul·ly

Definition of bully

bullied

bullying

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to treat abusively

  3. 2 :  to affect by means of force or coercion

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to use browbeating language or behavior :  bluster

Examples of bully in a sentence

  1. He bullied his younger brothers.

  2. <children who had been bullied by their father since infancy>

1693

First Known Use of bully

1693

Synonym Discussion of bully

intimidate, cow, bulldoze, bully, browbeat mean to frighten into submission. intimidate implies inducing fear or a sense of inferiority into another <intimidated by so many other bright freshmen>. cow implies reduction to a state where the spirit is broken or all courage is lost <not at all cowed by the odds against making it in show business>. bulldoze implies an intimidating or an overcoming of resistance usually by urgings, demands, or threats <bulldozed the city council into approving the plan>. bully implies intimidation through threats, insults, or aggressive behavior <bullied into giving up their lunch money>. browbeat implies a cowing through arrogant, scornful, or contemptuous treatment <browbeat the witness into a contradiction>.

4

bully

noun bul·ly

Definition of bully

  1. :  pickled or canned usually corned beef

Origin and Etymology of bully

probably modification of French (bœuf) boulli boiled beef


First Known Use: 1753


BULLY Defined for English Language Learners


2

bully

adjective bul·ly

Definition of bully for English Language Learners

  • —used in phrases like bully for you to express approval or praise especially when the approval or praise is not sincere


3

bully

verb bul·ly

Definition of bully for English Language Learners

  • : 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


BULLY Defined for Kids

1

bully

play
noun bul·ly \ˈbu̇-lē\

Definition of bully for Students

plural

bullies

  1. :  a person who teases, hurts, or threatens smaller or weaker persons


2

bully

play
verb bul·ly

Definition of bully for Students

bullied

bullying

  1. :  to tease, hurt, or threaten a smaller or weaker person :  to act like a bully toward



Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

of, relating to, or resembling a fox

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ