churl·​ish | \ ˈchər-lish How to pronounce churlish (audio) \

Definition of churlish

1 : of, resembling, or characteristic of a churl : vulgar
2 : marked by a lack of civility or graciousness : surly he didn't like the churlish tone in his voice— Margaret Truman outrage is among your more churlish emotions— Robert Goldsborough It would be churlish not to congratulate her.
3 : difficult to work with or deal with : intractable churlish soil

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Other Words from churlish

churlishly adverb
churlishness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for churlish

boorish, churlish, loutish, clownish mean uncouth in manners or appearance. boorish implies rudeness of manner due to insensitiveness to others' feelings and unwillingness to be agreeable. a drunk's boorish behavior churlish suggests surliness, unresponsiveness, and ungraciousness. churlish remarks loutish implies bodily awkwardness together with stupidity. a loutish oaf clownish suggests ill-bred awkwardness, ignorance or stupidity, ungainliness, and often a propensity for absurd antics. an adolescent's clownish conduct

The History of Churlish Goes Back to Anglo-Saxon England

It is easy to understand how "churlish" has come to mean "vulgar," "surly," and "intractable" if you know your English history. In Anglo-Saxon England a churl, or ceorl, was a freeman of the lowest rank who owned and cultivated a small farm. He had certain rights and had the upward mobility to rise to the rank of thane. After the Norman Conquest, however, many churls became serfs, and the word churl eventually came to be used as a pejorative for a rude, ill-bred person.

Examples of churlish in a Sentence

It would be churlish not to congratulate him. it would be churlish for any dinner guest to express anything but gratitude for his host's generous hospitality
Recent Examples on the Web These boys are churlish and brusque, with chapped rosy cheeks Duveneck has masterfully captured. Leyla Shokoohe, The Enquirer, 9 Apr. 2021 Logic may seem like a churlish thing to wish for in a movie that deliberately operates in such a heightened state of unreality. Leah Greenblatt,, 25 Feb. 2021 The contest held true to its churlish form, with the candidates and their supporters slinging accusations, hurling invective and painting a dire portrait should the other side prevail. Mark Z. Barabak Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2020 But there’s a fine line between forceful leadership and churlish self-absorption, and foot stomping is less effective than shredding an opponent with a rapier wit. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, 22 Oct. 2020 That churlish attitude could not last, given the larger context in which the holiday was born. Annette Gordon-reed, The New Yorker, 19 June 2020 And don’t assume social-media stupidity is the sole province of churlish, badly behaved children; each new communication platform is gas on the fire of an adolescent prefrontal cortex. Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2019 The joke, or one of the jokes, is that Zink does publish material like that—her next novel, Nicotine, was about a utopian (smokers’) commune battling its churlish landlords. Andrew Martin, The New York Review of Books, 13 May 2020 The winter that never was remains an unsettling thing, but not to revel in its positive effects would be churlish. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'churlish.' 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 churlish

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for churlish

Middle English cherlyssh "of churls, rustic, uncouth," going back to Old English ceorlisc, cyrlisc, from ceorl "male person, countryman, member of the lowest class of free men" + -isc -ish — more at churl

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The first known use of churlish was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Churlish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for churlish



English Language Learners Definition of churlish

formal : not polite


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