Definitions

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

  • adj. Gnarled; misshapen.
  • adj. Slang Remarkable; outstanding.
  • adj. Slang Unpleasant; disgusting.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. having or characterized by gnarls; gnarled
  • adj. dangerous
  • adj. unpleasant, awful, ugly
  • adj. excellent, attractive
  • adj. Of music or a sound, harsh

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Full of knots; knotty; twisted; crossgrained.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having rough or distorted knots.

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

  • adj. used of old persons or old trees; covered with knobs or knots

Etymologies

gnarl +‎ -y. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A tube can be rigged to reach bass in gnarly cover, to pick off cruisers in open water, or to coax strikes from even the most finicky bedding bass.

    How to Catch Spawning Bass with Tube Lures

  • "I know you don't hear the word gnarly too much in conservative circles, but you're gonna start hearing it in the future!" the 44-year-old ex-actor told a crowd of about 200 assembled youths.

    The New Republic - All Feed

  • Thea Andrews, joking, "1891 Victorian England was a petty gnarly place -- I like that I actually got the word gnarly in a Victorian description."

    The IESB

  • The long and narrow peninsulas of the Midcoast region, which stretch from the Brunswick / Bath area through to the Camden / Rockland area, are often described as gnarly fingers that stretch into the sea.

    xml's Blinklist.com

  • It's important that us whites call gnarly looking black women beautiful, because we must, or we aren't human otherwise.

    Ace of Spades HQ

  • Yep, had a buddy place three cams near his feeders in Sept. Had some pic's of some "gnarly" deer.

    Why I Love Trail Cameras

  • No word yet on cause of death, but since he was just in Africa, we can only assume he had the ebola virus, or the hanta virus, or salmonella, or some kind of gnarly rhino wound.

    SOME DUDE JUST DIED

  • Now that I've gotten the whole Twitter thing out of the way, I find myself wishing that the fiasco that is Bike Month was also out of the way, since things are getting pretty bad or "gnarly," as they say in singletrack-slaying parlance out there.

    Illusions: Fake Twitters and Strange Looks

  • Baldwin has endeared himself to aspiring evangelical hipsters by interspersing outmoded California surferisms like "gnarly" and "awesome" into his sermons.

    Ali Gharib: The Passion Of The Baby Baldwin Brother

  • However, that inviting, carefree feeling is dulled by the dialogue's prolific inclusion of phrases like "gnarly" and referring to people as "dog".

    REVIEW: Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker

Comments

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  • ~ Something (or someone) both obscure and hairy.

    "Yow! - the tuned assembler implementation of BitBlt is really gnarly!"

    ~ From a similar but less specific usage in surfer slang.

    January 18, 2009

  • "They cannot be too gnarly and crabbed and rusty to look at. The gnarliest will have some redeeming traits even to the eye. You will discover some evening redness dashed or sprinkled on some protuberance or in some cavity. It is rare that the summer lets an apple go without streaking or spotting it on some part of its sphere. It will have some red stains, commemorating the mornings and evenings it has witnessed; some dark and rusty blotches, in memory of the clouds and foggy, mildewy days that have passed over it; and a spacious field of green reflecting the general face of Nature,--green even as the fields; or a yellow ground, which implies a milder flavor,--yellow as the harvest, or russet as the hills." - 'Wild Apples', Henry David Thoreau.

    December 14, 2007