Thesaurus

surly

adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms of surly

1 given to or displaying a resentful silence and often irritability
  • went about his chores in a surly huff, totally annoyed that he was stuck at home on this beautiful Saturday

Synonyms for surly

Words Related to surly

Phrases Synonymous with surly

Near Antonyms for surly

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About surly

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

Learn More About surly

Time Traveler for surly

Time Traveler

The first known use of surly was in 1523

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About surly

Thesaurus Entries Near surly

surliness

surly

surmise

See More Nearby Entries 

Cite this Entry

“Surly.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/surly. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on surly

Nglish: Translation of surly for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!