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 The release of the TSA’s firearm report comes as U.S. airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration are dealing with a record number of flight disturbances and unruly passengers. Kimberlee Speakman, Forbes, 13 Oct. 2021 Airlines are also dealing with other issues such as vaccine mandates, unruly passengers and mask regulations. Talal Ansari, WSJ, 12 Oct. 2021 And their unions say they are stretched thin and in some cases quitting their jobs due to the alarming number of incidents involving unruly passengers. Chris Isidore, CNN, 11 Oct. 2021 Not only are there new COVID-19 protocols to keep in mind, but there have also been a recent rash of flight delays and cancellations and record numbers of unruly passengers onboard planes. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, 6 Oct. 2021 Delta Air Lines is considering speaking with other airlines to keep unruly passengers off all flights. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Oct. 2021 There have been nearly 4,500 reports of unruly passengers since the beginning of the year. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, 30 Sep. 2021 Since January, airlines have reported more than 4,000 cases of unruly passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration, with more than 3,000 related to passengers violating mask rules. Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2021 The Federal Aviation Administration recently said that more than 70 percent of the 4,385 reports of unruly passengers this year involved those who would not comply with the federal mandate to wear a face covering. Washington Post, 30 Sep. 2021

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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Time Traveler for unruly

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

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Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unruly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unruly. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of unruly

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on unruly

Nglish: Translation of unruly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unruly for Arabic Speakers


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