Share this entry

Share this page

surly

Line breaks: surly
Pronunciation: /ˈsəːli
 
/

Definition of surly in English:

adjective (surlier, surliest)

Bad-tempered and unfriendly: the porter left with a surly expression
More example sentences
  • Marjorie Campbell plays a sour and surly chambermaid that scores laughs galore.
  • The day-time guard at the entrance to our village is the most grumpy and surly man.
  • Instead of the often surly and obsessed golfer with a dodgy sense of humour a more humble and accessible golfer came to light.
Synonyms
bad-tempered, ill-natured, grumpy, glum, crotchety, prickly, cantankerous, irascible, testy, ill-tempered, short-tempered, ungracious, splenetic, choleric, dyspeptic, bilious, crusty, abrupt, brusque, curt, gruff, blunt, churlish, ill-humoured, crabbed, crabby, uncivil, morose, dour, sullen, sulky, moody, moping, sour, unfriendly, unpleasant, scowling, unsmiling;
humourless, disrespectful
informal chippy, grouchy

Origin

mid 16th century (in the sense 'lordly, haughty, arrogant'): alteration of obsolete sirly (see sir, -ly1).

More
  • Surly was originally sirly, a clue to its early meaning. In medieval times sirly meant ‘in the manner of a sir’ or lord, and surly was originally used in the sense ‘lordly, haughty, arrogant’. The ‘bad-tempered and unfriendly’ meaning emerged late in the 16th century.

Derivatives

surlily

1
adverb
Example sentences
  • The crowd surlily begins to look for hats, shoes and coat-belts torn off in the scrimmage.
  • He hesitated as if about to say something sharp, then surlily he agreed.

surliness

2
noun
Example sentences
  • All this and some sort of subway malfunction that caused my homebound train to be completely packed with surly commuters who started picking fights with each other just to express their surliness.
  • I had been slow to relinquish the last of my English currency and I was unprepared for the extreme surliness of the official who glowered at me with undisguised aggression as I handed him my passport.
  • It can be taken for granted that reasons abound for self-pity, anger, fear, ill will, surliness and general unhappiness.

Words that rhyme with surly

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

Definition of surly in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day cumbersome
Pronunciation: ˈkʌmbəs(ə)m
adjective
large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry…