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bul·​ly·​ing ˈbu̇-lē-iŋ How to pronounce bullying (audio)
: 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 bullyingMichael Holroyd
… underestimates the plain meanness behind the pleasure people take in bullying.George F. Will


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: 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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Their reasons for wanting a name change could include teasing or bullying, and shouldn’t be dismissed out-of-hand. Lisa Mulcahy, Good Housekeeping, 23 Mar. 2023 RuPaul joined the resistance in a March 8 state-of-the-union address in which the Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race host labeled the political attacks as bullying. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, 23 Mar. 2023 Which, unfortunately, is a common bullying tactic used by people in positions of power to evade accountability and intimidate women into silence. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 21 Mar. 2023 Mangini said the incidents clearly meet the school district’s and the state’s definitions of bullying. Daniel Kool, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Mar. 2023 The news conference came before several hundred angry students and parents demanded answers and offered criticism, some through tears, of the district's bullying policies during a board meeting later Thursday evening. Jenna Calderón, USA TODAY, 20 Feb. 2023 Some causes could have been childhood bullying and perfectionism about my appearance. Eva Fisher, Fortune Well, 10 Mar. 2023 This poor human behavior toward robots is an example of robot bullying. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 8 Mar. 2023 Like her older brother, Stella struggled with bullying at school. Alex Gurley, Peoplemag, 6 Mar. 2023
That's why experts say more anti-bullying intervention is needed – from both parents and schools. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, 16 Feb. 2023 The student then met with the school’s principal and vice principal – an anti-bullying specialist, according to the state school directory – and reported the threats of violence made against her before she was assaulted, according to the lawsuit. Celina Tebor, CNN, 13 Feb. 2023 The confidence, the grace and the moral backbone with which Alidoosti has today stood up to a bullying and violent state that has completely lost any semblance of legitimacy did not fall from the sky. Hamid Dabashi, CNN, 29 Dec. 2022 Donovan is also working close with Great American Family on Upstanders, his anti-bullying program which will have another assembly in January with RomaDrama. Emily Longeretta, Variety, 23 Nov. 2022 However, the two sides have agreed tentatively to new anti-bullying protections, expanded paid parental leave and some new commuting support. Los Angeles Times, 15 Dec. 2022 The Pretty Little Liars alum opened up about her younger years as a student as part of an anti-bullying PSA for Disney/ABC's #ChooseKindness campaign with her Perfectionists costar Sasha Pieterse for National Bullying Prevention Month. Maria Yagoda, Peoplemag, 11 Nov. 2022 To qualify for reinstatement, Cromwell and assistant coach Sam Greene, who was also banned, must participate in training regarding retaliation, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-bullying, as well as executive coaching. Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2022 Transgender and anti-bullying activists like Zoey Luna, 21, an aspiring actress who sued her school district at age 13 when she was threatened with expulsion for using the girls’ bathroom. Teresa M. Hanafin, BostonGlobe.com, 11 Nov. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bullying.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1742, in the meaning defined above


1746, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bullying was in 1742

Dictionary Entries Near bullying

Cite this Entry

“Bullying.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bullying. Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Legal Definition


ˈbu̇-lē-iŋ, bə-
: 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

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