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 event raises funds for AspenOut, a local nonprofit committed to ending bullying and improving tolerance toward the LGBTQ+ community. Miles Griffis, Outside Online, "The 2020 LGBTQ+ Ski Guide," 27 Nov. 2019 Facebook is still struggling to proactively police bullying and harassment. Fortune, "Facebook Removed Nearly 750,000 Instagram Posts Showing Child Exploitation," 13 Nov. 2019 Curb has turned her grief into a mission through The Ashlynn Sparks Movement, a non-profit formed in her daughter’s honor to reach out to the area’s youth in an effort to heighten awareness of gun violence, mental health, bullying and other issues. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Mother hopes teen’s life, tragic murder can help others," 29 Oct. 2019 The bullying can be indirect (if your account gets hacked and the bully posts things that are untrue), or direct (the bully directly messages you with hurtful comments), according to SafeTeens.org. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "A child drove 200 miles to meet a stranger. Here's how to make sure your kid doesn't do the same," 25 Sep. 2019 Pompous and self-centered bullying is definitely un-American, even from an adult who acts like an 11-year-old. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Where can I find that data about ‘the immigrants currently attacking America’?," 25 July 2019 These new features, at least, are immediate and more helpful, if that’s where the bullying is happening. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "Instagram will test a feature that allows users to shadow ban their bullies," 8 July 2019 The district intended the performance to be a lesson on bullying, school officials said; some parents thought the children weren’t old enough to process the information. Susan Miller, USA TODAY, "'We are not drag queens': For transgender people in 2019, a conflicted reality of breakthroughs, barriers," 19 Nov. 2019 For Aidyn, school became intolerable after Kluge’s departure turned into a controversial issue that sparked protests at a school board meeting and bullying at school. Katie Reilly, Time, "'This Isn't Just About a Pronoun.' Teachers and Trans Students Are Clashing Over Whose Rights Come First," 15 Nov. 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

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Bullying.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bullying?utm_campaign=sd&utm_medium=serp&utm_source=jsonld. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

Comments on bullying

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