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

And on the Southwest Side, Ald. Marty Quinn, 13th, has set out on a precinct-by-precinct effort to collect signatures from residents to outlaw online rentals, after some homeowners complained about unruly behavior from guests. John Byrne, chicagotribune.com, "Emanuel calls for new fee on Airbnb rentals," 12 June 2018 The charges stem from the aftermath of an incident which began at about 1:30 a.m., when bar staff at the tavern was asked to subdue an unruly patron, and continued at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, where Goodlad was taken for a cut lip. Jim Riccioli, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Waukesha man charged following violent struggle with bar staff and police after he was kicked out of tavern," 22 Mar. 2018 Unlike Plato, who saw the passions as unruly beasts to be tamed, Aristotle thought that our job was to tune them—that is, to modulate them and deploy them carefully. Julian Baggini, WSJ, "‘Aristotle’s Way’ Review: Philosophize and Flourish," 15 Feb. 2019 But annual pass holders have also been known to bring Disney negative press due to their unruly behavior. E.j. Dickson, Vox, "There’s a black market of limited-edition Disney park merch — and Disney is cracking down on it," 17 Dec. 2018 Adams’ arraignment quickly became unruly as about 40 attendees, including Adams’ family, sat in the courtroom. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Connecticut man collapses in court, says 'I'm a good soul' despite accusation of high school student's murder," 13 Sep. 2018 Fred Trump chose the strict boarding school in Cornwall-on-Hudson mainly to straighten out his unruly son, then 13. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Meeting With Kim Tests Trump’s Dealmaking Swagger," 9 June 2018 Flannigan’s group, though, became unruly and was kicked out of the bar. Paige Fry, chicagotribune.com, "Civil trial seeks responsibility for the death of Palatine man killed by one punch," 31 May 2018 But the curators were perhaps too enamored of the artists Mr. Kelley, Jim Shaw, John Miller, Tony Oursler, Sue Williams and Raymond Pettibon, whose unruly, sometimes scatalogical work in Los Angeles from the 1970s-2010s dominate the last two rooms. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, "‘Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy’ Review: Paranoid Imaginings," 24 Sep. 2018

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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Last Updated

16 May 2019

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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

Comments on unruly

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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