\ ˈnär-lē How to pronounce gnarly (audio) \
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 so many ways to enjoy chicken: baked, broiled or poached; cubed into a kabob, fried into a finger or mixed with mayo and served on toast; slurried as a wing, chopped as a liver, barbecued as a gnarly foot. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "Here’s the story behind the 30-foot-tall chicken currently living at Denver Public Library," 4 Oct. 2019 The swarm of bees attacked players throughout Emirates Riverside, which forced them to flop onto the ground in hopes of avoiding a gnarly welt. Michael Shapiro,, "Bees Invade Pitch at Cricket World Cup, Cause Delay in Sri Lanka and South Africa Match," 28 June 2019 Jack Nichting was on the receiving end of a gnarly blindside on the latest episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols after his tribemate Kellee snuck an immunity idol over to the opposition while securing the target squarely on him. Dalton Ross,, "Jack Nichting discusses his durag comment to Jamal on Survivor," 7 Nov. 2019 Compared to the gnarly meats, the yellow noodles were hothouse flowers, soft and retreating. Tim Carman, Washington Post, "At this Maryland restaurant, hand-pulled noodles are the star attraction," 6 Nov. 2019 Trump isn’t trying to help voters examine the gnarly history of foreign aid and corruption in Ukraine. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Trump smears Biden, but it won’t make Ukraine mess go away," 25 Sep. 2019 Several slivers of the continent dodged both a gnarly shave and slow obliteration through subduction. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "Lost continent revealed in new reconstruction of geologic history," 11 Sep. 2019 The gardens created by businessman Arnold D. Haskell in 1966 cover a city block and are divided into manageable chunks, such as a succulent and cactus garden shaded by a giant gnarly pepper tree and a humid conservatory of tropical plants. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, "Four Hours in Corona del Mar, where it’s already Halloween," 30 Aug. 2019 The shift into the more gnarly thriller territory of the sinister Yates and his goons becomes formulaic, its derivative neo-noir nastiness not helped by distinguished stage veteran Cullum being so miscast. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Jungleland': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 7 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for gnarly

Time Traveler

The first known use of gnarly was in 1773

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Statistics for gnarly

Last Updated

26 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Gnarly.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for gnarly


How to pronounce gnarly (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gnarly

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).


a period of high artistic development

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