bul·​ly·​ing | \ ˈbu̇-lē-iŋ How to pronounce bullying (audio) , ˈbə- \

Definition of bullying

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. : the actions and behavior of a bully Her own childhood had been made miserable by bullying— Michael Holroyd … underestimates the plain meanness behind the pleasure people take in bullying.— George F. Will



Definition of bullying (Entry 2 of 2)

: prone to or characterized by overbearing mistreatment and domination of others … dominated the program but did so in a bullying manner that made him appear crabbier and more churlish than ever.— Tom Shales At his worst, he was just another loud, boorish, bullying … drunk …— Bartholomew Gill The bullying husband is … living out a way of being that he learned at home as a child.— Robert Karen

Examples of bullying in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The mascot issue came to the forefront of school board discussions this past spring, following an incident in which the local chapter of the NAACP brought concerns about racial bullying at the high school to a board meeting. Eliza Fawcett, courant.com, "In heated debate over mascot, Killingly board of education rescinds “Red Hawks,” but fails in bid to restore “Redmen” name," 12 Dec. 2019 An inquiry conducted by Naomi Ellenbogen QC found that one in five staff had experienced bullying or harassment in the Lords. Tara O'reilly, refinery29.com, ""He's Older Than My Grandfather": Westminster's Sexual Harassment Scandal," 23 July 2019 They were uploaded onto an Instagram website that people were being invited to join, officials said in a press release, which described the case as cyber bullying. Serena O'sullivan, azcentral, "2 Yavapai County girls accused of posting another girl's nude photos on Instagram," 28 June 2019 In October, Katy ISD launched an investigation into a bullying incident after videos surfaced of what appears to be a beating that occurred on one of the school buses. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "New high tech cameras to be installed on Katy ISD buses," 18 Dec. 2019 Beijing has accused Washington on economic bullying. Victoria Cavaliere, CNN, "China suspends tariffs on US-made cars, corn and other goods amid new trade truce," 15 Dec. 2019 But girls wrestling and events like the Tolleson All-Girls Classic helps bring a sense of belonging for girls subjected to bullying. Dana Scott, azcentral, "5 Reasons why the Tolleson All-Girls Classic wrestling tournament matters," 14 Dec. 2019 China’s leaders have come to construe trade hostilities as part of an American bullying campaign engineered to suppress their national aspirations and deny the country its rightful place as a superpower. New York Times, "Brexit’s Advance Opens a New Trade Era," 14 Dec. 2019 The first lady's signature Be Best initiative includes campaigning against bullying of children on social media. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Melania Trump responds to POTUS attack on Greta Thunberg; she says she communicates 'differently'," 14 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bullying.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bullying


1742, in the meaning defined above


1746, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for bullying

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The first known use of bullying was in 1742

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Statistics for bullying

Last Updated

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bullying.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bullying. Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for bullying


bul·​ly·​ing | \ ˈbu̇-lē-iŋ, bə- \

Legal Definition of bullying

: acts or written or spoken words intended to intimidate or harass a person or to cause physical harm to a person or his or her property — see also cyberbullying

Note: The statutory language used to describe what constitutes bullying differs from state to state.

More from Merriam-Webster on bullying

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bullying

Nglish: Translation of bullying for Spanish Speakers

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