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[bur-lee] /ˈbɜr li/
adjective, burlier, burliest.
large in bodily size; stout; sturdy.
bluff; brusque.
Origin of burly
1250-1300; Middle English borli, burli, Old English borlīce (adv.) excellently, equivalent to bor(a) ruler + -līce -ly
Related forms
burlily, adverb
burliness, noun
unburly, adjective
1. strapping, stocky, brawny, thickset, beefy, hefty.
1. puny, weak, frail. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for burly


adjective -lier, -liest
large and thick of build; sturdy; stout
Derived Forms
burliness, noun
Word Origin
C13: of Germanic origin; compare Old High German burlīh lofty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for burly

c.1300, perhaps from Old English burlic "noble, stately," literally "bowerly," fit to frequent a lady's apartment (see bower). Sense descended through "stout," and "sturdy" by 15c. to "heavily built." Another theory connects the Old English word to Old High German burlih "lofty, exalted," related to burjan "to raise, lift."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for burly

burly 1


Burlesque: even when Buttons was in burly

burly 2


Very difficult; tricky; dangerous: Check out his burly disaster slide (1990s+ Snowboarders & skateboarders)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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