un·​ruly | \ ˌən-ˈrü-lē How to pronounce unruly (audio) \
unrulier; unruliest

Definition of unruly

: not readily ruled, disciplined, or managed an unruly crowd a mane of unruly hair

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Other Words from unruly

unruliness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for unruly

unruly, ungovernable, intractable, refractory, recalcitrant, willful, headstrong mean not submissive to government or control. unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior. unruly children ungovernable implies either an escape from control or guidance or a state of being unsubdued and incapable of controlling oneself or being controlled by others. ungovernable rage intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control. intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold. special schools for refractory children recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority. acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way. a willful disregard for the rights of others headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion. a headstrong young cavalry officer

Examples of unruly in a Sentence

unruly pupils were given detention as a matter of course a camp that was known as a place where unruly youths were given their last chance to shape up

Recent Examples on the Web

Unfortunately, these characters can get unruly, and the girls keep an axe close at hand. Hermione Hoby, The New Yorker, "What Does It Mean to Be a “Real” Writer?," 3 July 2019 The unruly passenger was identified as 32-year-old Brandon Cordell Ganus of Weatherford. Dallas News, "Watch: Dallas-bound flight lands in Oklahoma so police can remove drunken, violent passenger," 19 June 2019 In Amazon’s bookstore, the unruly behavior has been widespread, aided by print-on-demand technology. David Streitfeld, New York Times, "What Happens After Amazon’s Domination Is Complete? Its Bookstore Offers Clues," 23 June 2019 In Amazon’s bookstore, the unruly behavior has been widespread, aided by print-on-demand technology. David Streitfeld, BostonGlobe.com, "What happens after Amazon’s domination is complete? Its bookstore offers clues," 23 June 2019 The incidents range from soiled cars to unruly behavior. Ben Chapman, WSJ, "Homeless Found Breaking Laws on New York Subway to Be Referred to Social Services," 13 June 2019 The defense also successfully painted Morris Black as unruly and aggressive, while Durst was labeled an unassuming stoner. Megan Friedman, Town & Country, "What It Was Really Like to Be a Juror in the Robert Durst Trial," 26 July 2017 The terms in the series quickly become unruly, however; energy, instead of diminishing at shorter and shorter distances in the gas, seems to amplify. Quanta Magazine, "Famous Fluid Equations Are Incomplete," 21 July 2015 An unruly passenger aboard an American Airlines flight to Phoenix opened the airplane door and tried to jump onto the tarmac. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "A piece of an airplane fell out of the sky in Las Vegas, FAA investigating," 7 June 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for unruly

Middle English unreuly, from un- + reuly disciplined, from reule rule

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Statistics for unruly

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for unruly

The first known use of unruly was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of unruly

disapproving : difficult to control


un·​ruly | \ ˌən-ˈrü-lē How to pronounce unruly (audio) \
unrulier; unruliest

Kids Definition of unruly

: difficult to control unruly hair

Other Words from unruly

unruliness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on unruly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unruly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unruly

Spanish Central: Translation of unruly

Nglish: Translation of unruly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unruly for Arabic Speakers

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