\ˈnär-lē \
gnarlier; gnarliest

Definition of gnarly 

1 : gnarled gnarly branches

2 slang

a : difficult, hairy skidded around gnarly hairpin turns— Austin Murphy

b : bad, nasty has some pretty gnarly karma coming— Drew Barrymore

c : cool, good some gnarly guitar playing

Examples of gnarly in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

There are tangles of fava and green beans, gnarly rows of celery and turnip roots, whole heads of artichoke and garlic, and bursts of cherry tomatoes. Keith Flanagan, USA TODAY, "A taste of Tel Aviv's largest open-air market," 19 June 2018 Cutting-edge punk An eclectic collection of Detroit’s modern punk, experimental, glam or just overall gnarly bands will be putting on a rollicking show Friday at PJ's Lager House. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Grayling album release, J. Walker & the Crossguards, Chris Canas," 12 July 2018 Covered in gnarly graffiti, the park was then an apocalyptic collection of crumbling concrete, green water, and overgrown weeds. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Sea-Arama in Galveston was an island attraction for decades," 11 July 2018 Speaking of Lips, this song by the Philly band fronted by Chrissy Tashjianis by no means a happy one, but its gnarly guitar riff and catchy hook does deliver plenty of catharsis. Dan Deluca,, "Drake, Ariana Grande, Cardi B and the other songs to create the best Summer music playlist," 5 July 2018 This is music with shake-you-up hooks, frenzied tempos, gnarly guitars and anthemic vocals. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Idiot Kids at Outer Limits, Nick Speed at the Old Miami," 5 July 2018 The coming use of autonomous vehicles poses gnarly ethical questions. The Christian Science Monitor, "AI can have values if not a conscience," 2 July 2018 The knotted prose is most often a reflection of gnarly states of mind. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Evgenia Citkowitz’s New Novel Is a Dark, Cool Tonic for Blazing Summer Days," 20 June 2018 However, the idea that something many people use every day could cause such a gnarly injury is enough to make anyone question this kind of product. Marci Robin, Allure, "Mom Says "Deodorant Challenge" Caused Second-Degree Burns on Teen Daughter's Arm," 10 May 2018

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

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gnarly

see gnarled

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Dictionary Entries near gnarly






gnash one's teeth


Statistics for gnarly

Last Updated

3 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for gnarly

The first known use of gnarly was in 1773

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More Definitions for gnarly



English Language Learners Definition of gnarly

: very difficult or bad

: very good


\ˈnär-lē \
gnarlier; gnarliest

Kids Definition of gnarly

More from Merriam-Webster on gnarly

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Comments on gnarly

What made you want to look up gnarly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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