surly

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Synonym Chooser

How is the word surly different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of surly are crabbed, gloomy, glum, morose, saturnine, sulky, and sullen. While all these words mean "showing a forbidding or disagreeable mood," surly implies gruffness and sullenness of speech or manner.

a typical surly teenager

When is it sensible to use crabbed instead of surly?

While in some cases nearly identical to surly, crabbed applies to a forbidding morose harshness of manner.

the school's notoriously crabbed headmaster

When is gloomy a more appropriate choice than surly?

The words gloomy and surly are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, gloomy implies a depression in mood making for seeming sullenness or glumness.

a gloomy mood ushered in by bad news

When might glum be a better fit than surly?

The synonyms glum and surly are sometimes interchangeable, but glum suggests a silent dispiritedness.

a glum candidate left to ponder a stunning defeat

How do morose and glum relate to one another, in the sense of surly?

Morose adds to glum an element of bitterness or misanthropy.

morose job seekers who are inured to rejection

When could saturnine be used to replace surly?

While the synonyms saturnine and surly are close in meaning, saturnine describes a heavy forbidding aspect or suggests a bitter disposition.

a saturnine cynic always finding fault

When can sulky be used instead of surly?

The meanings of sulky and surly largely overlap; however, sulky suggests childish resentment expressed in peevish sullenness.

grew sulky after every spat

In what contexts can sullen take the place of surly?

In some situations, the words sullen and surly are roughly equivalent. However, sullen implies a silent ill humor and a refusal to be sociable.

remained sullen amid the festivities

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Cite this Entry

“Surly.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/surly. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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