American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adj. Heavy, strong, and muscular; husky. See Synonyms at muscular.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Great in bodily size; bulky; large; stout: formerly used of things, but now only of persons, and implying some degree of coarseness.
- Boisterous; loud.
- Synonyms Massive, Ponderous, etc. See bulky.
- To make burly; cause to bulge out.
- Having burls or excrescent knots: as, a burly tree.
- adj. Large, well-built, and muscular.
- adj. slang Originating from the east end of London, England. An expressive term to mean something is good, awesome, amazing, unbelievable. e.g That goal was burly, or Räikkönen is a burly Formula 1 driver.
- adj. slang Originating from surfer culture and/or Southern California. An expressive term to mean something is of large magnitude, either good or bad, and sometimes both. e.g. "That wave was burly!" (meaning it was large, dangerous and difficult to ride). "This hike is going to be burly, but worth it because there is good body surfing at that beach." (meaning the hike is going to be hard work).
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. Having a large, strong, or gross body; stout; lusty; -- now used chiefly of human beings, but formerly of animals, in the sense of stately or beautiful, and of inanimate things that were huge and bulky.
- adj. Coarse and rough; boisterous.
- adj. muscular and heavily built
- Middle English burlich, from Old English *borlic, excellent; see bher-1 in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“There is no doubt in my mind that the word burly isn't interchangeable with the terms cut or svelte.”
“She has managed to get in a barroom brawl, threatened to shoot a mayoral staffer as well as have him beaten up, and twice called a burly and bald fellow council member “Shrek” during a public hearing.”
“That was 25 years ago, but I still recall the burly driv ...”
“That was 25 years ago, but I still recall the burly driver eying me in the rear-view mirror as we idled at a red light on Michigan Avenue.”
““Hey, you kids!” called a burly man on another day when we were only watchin.”
“It was a different type of tobacco that they worked in; the tobacco was called burly tobacco.”
“At the mention of the prison term the burly Xavier moved uneasily upon the bunk.”
“Living this way Jack was, of course, known to everybody -- as well known as the burly parson, the tall policeman, and the lazy girl who acted as postman and strolled about the parish once a day delivering the letters.”
“The broad-shouldered Gaines, who could easily be described as burly, remembers friends in Laurelton/Cambria Heights/South Jamaica, Queens neighborhoods of his youth "We moved around a lot," he said asking if he was headed to football practice, when he was on his way to dance rehearsal.”
“Al-Murisi, described as a burly man, got up from his seat near the back of the plane and "walked briskly" toward the front, where he began yelling and tried to open the cockpit door by turning the handle, police and witnesses said.”
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