from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.
  • n. A hired ruffian; a thug.
  • n. A pimp.
  • n. Archaic A fine person.
  • n. Archaic A sweetheart.
  • transitive v. To treat in an overbearing or intimidating manner. See Synonyms at intimidate.
  • transitive v. To make (one's way) aggressively.
  • intransitive v. To behave like a bully.
  • intransitive v. To force one's way aggressively or by intimidation: "They bully into line at the gas pump” ( Martin Gottfried).
  • adj. Excellent; splendid: did a bully job of persuading the members.
  • interj. Used to express approval: Bully for you!
  • n. Canned or pickled beef. Also called bully beef.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who is cruel to others, especially those who are weaker or have less power.
  • n. A hired thug.
  • n. A prostitute’s minder; a pimp.
  • n. Bully beef.
  • v. To intimidate (someone) as a bully.
  • v. To act aggressively towards.
  • adj. Very good; excellent.
  • interj. Well done!

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pickled or canned beef.
  • adj. Jovial and blustering; dashing.
  • adj. Fine; excellent.
  • n. A noisy, blustering fellow, more insolent than courageous, who threatens, intimidates, or badgers people who are smaller or weaker than he is; an insolent, tyrannical fellow.
  • n. A brisk, dashing fellow.
  • interj. Well done! Excellent!
  • intransitive v. To act as a bully{1}.
  • transitive v. To intimidate or badger with threats and by an overbearing, swaggering demeanor; to act the part of a bully{1} toward.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing fellow; a swaggerer; a swashbuckler; one who hectors, browbeats, or domineers.
  • n. A companion; a high-spirited, dashing fellow: a familiar term of address.
  • n. A degraded fellow who protects fallen women and lives on their gains.
  • n. A Cornish name of the shanny. Also bullycod.
  • n. In Tasmania, a species of blenny, Blennius tasmanicus.
  • Blustering; hectoring; ruffianly.
  • Brisk; dashing; jovial; high-spirited.
  • Fine; capital; good: as, a bully horse, picture, etc.
  • To act the bully toward; overbear with bluster or menaces.
  • To make fearful; overawe; daunt; terrorize.
  • Synonyms To browbeat, hector, domineer over.
  • To be loudly arrogant and overbearing; be noisy and quarrelsome.
  • Synonyms To bluster, swagger, vapor.
  • n. In mining, a kind of hammer used in striking the drill or borer. In its simplest form it has a square section at the eye and an octagonal face.
  • n. In field-hockey, the beginning of a game and the starting of each goal. A player from each side stands facing the sideline, and strikes first the ground and then the stick of his opponent alternately three times, after which either player may strike the ball: as soon as it is so struck the ball is in play.
  • n. A foot-ball scrimmage.
  • n. The foreman or boss of a logging-camp.
  • n. Canned or pickled beef. Also attrib., as bully beef.
  • n. The bullace or sloe.
  • n. Same as bully-tree. Also called bully-bay and bully-berry tree.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a hired thug
  • adj. very good
  • v. discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate
  • v. be bossy towards
  • n. a cruel and brutal fellow


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Possibly from Middle Dutch boele, sweetheart, probably alteration of broeder, brother; see bhrāter- in Indo-European roots.
Perhaps French bouilli, boiled meat, label on canned beef, from past participle of bouillir, to boil, from Old French boilir; see boil1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1530, from Dutch boel ("lover, brother"), from Middle Dutch boel, boele ("brother, lover"), from Proto-Germanic *bō-lan- (compare Middle Low German bōle ("brother"), Middle High German buole ("brother, close relative, close relation"), German Buhle ("lover")), diminutive of expressive *bō- (“brother, father”). More at boy.



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  • Such an interesting word: mining, beef, football, pimps.

    July 1, 2015

  • meaning has gone from "something commendable" to "brute"

    September 8, 2009

  • word used to describe really good recipes in my grandmother's cookbook

    January 9, 2009

  • A Teddy Roosevelt interjection.

    August 12, 2007

  • It was a real bully circus. HF 22

    December 7, 2006