\ ˈnär-lē How to pronounce gnarly (audio) \
gnarlier; gnarliest

Definition of gnarly

1 : gnarled gnarly branches
2 slang : very bad: such as
a : very difficult or challenging to deal with a gnarly [=thorny, knotty] problem gnarly conditions Having … skidded around gnarly hairpin turns … , the two bikers pedaled furiously for the finish.— Austin Murphy
b : nasty, unpleasant "This guy has some pretty gnarly karma coming …"— Drew Barrymore
c : arousing disgust or distaste : gross A cute toe polish can't save gnarly, callused soles.— Jessica R. White " … It'll be kind of a gruesome death. You know, its fur will start falling out, it'll develop gnarly sores all over its body. … "— David Randall
3 slang : cool, excellent After initially wiping out on the left wave, [Filipe] Toledo responded with a gnarly air reverse on the right and was rewarded with a 9.27.Hanford Sentinel especially : having a pleasingly or impressively rugged or rough quality He played in the NFL, but then got bored with football and became a FBI agent. He was a gnarly dude. — Reece Kelley Graham And yet [Mark] Knopfler built a reputation as an intensely creative virtuoso (not to mention an ace songwriter), showing remarkable command over a range of tones and textures—from the gnarly distortion on hit single "Money for Nothing" to the stinging precision of "Tunnel of Love." Rolling Stone

Examples of gnarly in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Longhorns slogged through a 5-7 season and missed out on a bowl bid, but Thompson posted strong numbers while battling through a gnarly thumb injury on his throwing hand suffered on Oct. 9 in a 55-48 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 7 Jan. 2022 The gnarly old Crypt Keeper and his big, hungry cemetery were out there waiting for all of us. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, 16 Dec. 2021 Skepticism of Venom is high, given the gnarly Spider-Man 3 reception. Joe Reid, Vulture, 29 Dec. 2021 But in 2015, while playing with the Thorns, Wilkinson shredded her hamstring in a gnarly injury that ripped the muscle of her bone. Joe Freeman, oregonlive, 1 Dec. 2021 The No Doubt drummer, 52, shared the news on Instagram, alongside a graphic photo of the gnarly gash. Tristan Balagtas,, 21 Nov. 2021 However, the Frost report highlights a more gnarly problem: the forthcoming lack of highly productive workers. Simon Constable, Forbes, 30 Oct. 2021 The park will be located near the southern end of John Hunt Park and if a board atop four wheels is your idea of fun, then grab your brain bucket for a gnarly time. Paul Gattis |, al, 4 Nov. 2021 By the new millennium, noise had established itself not just as its own gnarly niche, but as a full-fledged genre, complete with highly specialized subcategories. Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2021

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

1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gnarly

see gnarled

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gnarly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for gnarly



English Language Learners Definition of gnarly

: very difficult or bad
: very good


\ ˈnär-lē How to pronounce gnarly (audio) \
gnarlier; gnarliest

Kids Definition of gnarly

More from Merriam-Webster on gnarly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gnarly


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