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

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 upward mobility to rise to the rank of thane. After the Norman Conquest, however, many churls became serfs, a change in status that meant losing not just social mobility but geographical mobility as well. The lowest rungs of a social system often serve as inspiration for a language's pejoratives, and churl eventually came to be used as a term 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 That’s a standard liberal hope, of course, against the grain of our incurably churlish country. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2022 Wham, the churlish AI wipes us all out, not even waiting for the meteor to do so. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2022 Smith acquiesces to contemporary platitudes that stereotype the black male work ethic as churlish and autocratic, confusing those traits with strength. Armond White, National Review, 11 Feb. 2022 Apparently, many voters used that clause to leave the churlish Bonds off their ballots. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Jan. 2022 West’s collaborators weren’t the only ones who were churlish with Donda‘s release; West himself expressed dissatisfaction with the rollout. Cady Lang, Time, 30 Aug. 2021 That said, it must also be stipulated that people seem to like Little Island, including some ordinarily churlish critics. Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2021 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 See More

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.

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 3 Oct. 2022.

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