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unruly

[uhn-roo-lee]
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adjective, un·ru·li·er, un·ru·li·est.
  1. not submissive or conforming to rule; ungovernable; turbulent; intractable; refractory; lawless: an unruly class; an unruly wilderness.
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Origin of unruly

1350–1400; Middle English unruely, equivalent to un- un-1 + ruly, ruely governable, controllable; see rule, -y1
Related formsun·ru·li·ness, noun

Synonyms

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disobedient, unmanageable, uncontrollable, stubborn, disorderly, riotous. Unruly, intractable, recalcitrant, refractory describe persons or things that resist management or control. Unruly suggests persistently disorderly behavior or character in persons or things: an unruly child, peevish and willful; wild, unruly hair. Intractable suggests in persons a determined resistance to all attempts to guide or direct them, in things a refusal to respond to attempts to shape, improve, or modify them: an intractable social rebel; a seemingly intractable problem in logistics. recalcitrant and refractory imply not only a lack of submissiveness but also an open, often violent, rebellion against authority or direction. Recalcitrant, the stronger of the two terms, suggests a stubborn and absolute noncompliance: a recalcitrant person, openly contemptuous of all authority. Refractory implies active, mulish disobedience, but leaves open the possibility of eventual compliance: refractory students, resisting efforts to interest them in their studies.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for unruly

unruly

adjective -lier or -liest
  1. disposed to disobedience or indiscipline
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Derived Formsunruliness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for unruly

adj.

c.1400, from un- (1) "not" + obsolete ruly "amenable to rule." Related: Unruliness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper