unruly

adjective un·ruly \ ˌən-ˈrü-lē \
Updated on: 3 Dec 2017

Definition of unruly

unrulier; unruliest
: not readily ruled, disciplined, or managed
  • an unruly crowd
  • a mane of unruly hair

unruliness

noun

Examples of unruly in a Sentence

  1. unruly pupils were given detention as a matter of course

  2. a camp that was known as a place where unruly youths were given their last chance to shape up

Recent Examples of unruly from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of unruly

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

UNRULY Defined for English Language Learners

unruly

adjective

Definition of unruly for English Language Learners

  • : difficult to control


UNRULY Defined for Kids

unruly

adjective un·ruly \ ˌən-ˈrü-lē \

Definition of unruly for Students

unrulier; unruliest
: difficult to control
  • unruly hair

unruliness

noun


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to make fruitful or productive

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu-jedi-training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!