1

bully

noun bul·ly \ ˈbu̇-lē , ˈbə- \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of bully

plural bullies
1 a :a blustering, browbeating person; especially :one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable
  • tormented by the neighborhood bully
b :pimp
2 :a hired ruffian
3 archaic
b :a fine chap

bully Wasn't Always Negative

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


2

bully

verb

Definition of bully

bullied; bullying
transitive verb
1 :to treat (someone) in a cruel, insulting, threatening, or aggressive fashion :to act like a bully toward
  • bullied her younger brother
2 :to cause (someone) to do something by means of force or coercion
  • was bullied into accepting their offer
intransitive verb
:to use language or behavior that is cruel, insulting, threatening, or aggressive

Examples of bully in a Sentence

  1. He bullied his younger brothers.

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

Origin and Etymology of bully

see 1bully

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

3

bully

adjective

Definition of bully

1 :excellent often used in interjectional expressions
  • bully for you
2 :resembling or characteristic of a bully
  • his bully tricks

Examples of bully in a Sentence

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

Origin and Etymology of bully

see 1bully

bully Synonyms

Synonyms
A-OK, A1, awesome, bang-up, banner, beautiful, blue-chip, blue-ribbon, boffo, bonny (also bonnie) [chiefly British], boss [slang], brag, brave, excellent, bumper, capital, choice, classic, cool [slang], corking, crackerjack, cracking, dandy, divine, dope [slang], down [slang], dynamite, fab, fabulous, famous, fantabulous [slang], fantastic, fine, first-class, first-rate, first-string, five-star, four-star, frontline, gangbusters (also gangbuster), gilt-edged (or gilt-edge), gone [slang], grand, great, groovy, heavenly, high-class, hot, hype [slang], immense, jim-dandy, keen, lovely, marvelous (or marvellous), mean, neat, nifty, noble, number one (also No. 1), numero uno, out-of-sight [slang], par excellence, peachy, peachy keen, phat [slang], prime, primo [slang], prize, prizewinning, quality, radical [slang], righteous [slang], sensational, slick, splendid, stellar, sterling, superb, superior, superlative, supernal, swell, terrific, tip-top, top, top-flight, top-notch, top-of-the-line, topping [chiefly British], top-shelf, unsurpassed, wizard [chiefly British], wonderful
Antonyms
atrocious, awful, execrable, lousy, pathetic, poor, rotten, terrible, vile, wretched
Related Words
acceptable, adequate, all right, decent, good, OK (or okay), passable, satisfactory, tolerable; better, exceptional, fancy, high-grade, high-test, premium, select, special, superfine; classical, standard, traditional
Near Antonyms
bad, inferior, low-grade, substandard, unsatisfactory; mediocre, middling, second-class, second-rate

4

bully

noun

Definition of bully

food :pickled or canned usually corned beef

Origin and Etymology of bully

probably modification of French (bœuf) boulli boiled beef


BULLY Defined for English Language Learners

bully

adjective

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


bully

verb

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

noun bul·ly \ ˈbu̇-lē \

Definition of bully for Students

plural bullies
:a person who teases, hurts, or threatens smaller or weaker persons

2

bully

verb

Definition of bully for Students

bullied; bullying
:to tease, hurt, or threaten a smaller or weaker person :to act like a bully toward


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