Definition of burly in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbəːli/

adjective (burlier, burliest)

(Of a person) large and strong; heavily built: I saw a burly figure approaching a big, burly man
More example sentences
  • In the next-door compound, a burly man was whacking a skinny boy with a thick stick.
  • She had been clamped by the time she got outside, and two burly men demanded £125 to have her car released.
  • Blanche looked at him, a big burly man with an abdomen that was bulging over his belt which seemed much too tight for him.
strapping, well built, sturdy, sturdily built, powerfully built, broad-shouldered, brawny, strong, muscular, muscly, well muscled, athletic, thickset, big, hefty, bulky, robust, rugged, stocky, lusty, Herculean, vigorous
informal hunky, beefy, husky, hulking, ripped, shredded
North American informal buff
US informal jacked
literary stalwart, thewy, stark
technical mesomorphic



Pronunciation: /ˈbəːlɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • Aaron could only look back at the familiar silvery eyes that had softened, despite the overbearing burliness of the body beneath them, and try and read them.
  • Not an easy thing to do with such an ode to burliness, natch.
  • An odd burliness possessed the feminine body frame as it strode through the student sleeping quarters on silent feet.


Middle English (in the sense 'dignified, imposing'): probably from an unrecorded Old English word meaning 'stately, fit for the bower' (see bower1, -ly1).

Words that rhyme with burly

Burghley, Burley, curly, early, girlie, hurley, hurly-burly, pearly, Shirley, surly, swirly, twirly

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: burly

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