• synonyms


[boo l-ee]
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noun, plural bul·lies.
  1. a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.
  2. Archaic. a man hired to do violence.
  3. Obsolete. a pimp; procurer.
  4. Obsolete. good friend; good fellow.
  5. Obsolete. sweetheart; darling.
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verb (used with object), bul·lied, bul·ly·ing.
  1. to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.
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verb (used without object), bul·lied, bul·ly·ing.
  1. to be loudly arrogant and overbearing.
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  1. Informal. fine; excellent; very good.
  2. dashing; jovial; high-spirited.
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  1. Informal. good! well done!
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Origin of bully1

First recorded in 1530–40, bully is from the Middle Dutch word boele lover
Related formsbul·ly·a·ble, adjectiveun·bul·lied, adjectiveun·bul·ly·ing, adjective


See more synonyms for bully on Thesaurus.com
6. cow, browbeat, coerce; terrorize, tyrannize.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bullier

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Take him all round, pard, there never was a bullier man in the mines.

    Roughing It

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • I still have time to appear at Bullier's and meet Zoe Mirilton.

  • He had fitted her out for an evening at the Bullier for twenty-five francs.

    Mlle. Fouchette

    Charles Theodore Murray

  • But the “Bullier” is closing and the crowd is pouring out into the cool air.

    The Real Latin Quarter

    F. Berkeley Smith

  • Gaining in audacity, he danced at Bullier's, dined at Foyd's, and at last had a mistress.

    Other People's Money

    Emile Gaboriau

British Dictionary definitions for bullier


noun plural -lies
  1. a person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people
  2. archaic a hired ruffian
  3. obsolete a procurer; pimp
  4. obsolete a fine fellow or friend
  5. obsolete a sweetheart; darling
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verb -lies, -lying or -lied
  1. (when tr , often foll by into) to hurt, intimidate, or persecute (a weaker or smaller person), esp to make him do something
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  1. dashing; jollymy bully boy
  2. informal very good; fine
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  1. Also: bully for you informal well done! bravo!
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Word Origin

C16 (in the sense: sweetheart, hence fine fellow, hence swaggering coward): probably from Middle Dutch boele lover, from Middle High German buole, perhaps childish variant of bruoder brother


noun plural -lies
  1. any of various small freshwater fishes of the genera Gobiomorphus and Philynodon of New ZealandAlso called (NZ): pakoko, titarakura, toitoi
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Word Origin

C20: short for cockabully
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 bullier



1530s, originally "sweetheart," applied to either sex, from Dutch boel "lover; brother," probably a diminutive of Middle Dutch broeder "brother" (cf. Middle High German buole "brother," source of German Buhle "lover;" see brother (n.)).

Meaning deteriorated 17c. through "fine fellow" and "blusterer" to "harasser of the weak" (1680s, from bully-ruffian, 1650s). Perhaps this was by influence of bull (n.1), but a connecting sense between "lover" and "ruffian" may be in "protector of a prostitute," which was one sense of bully (though not specifically attested until 1706). The expression meaning "worthy, jolly, admirable" (especially in 1864 U.S. slang bully for you!) is first attested 1680s, and preserves an earlier, positive sense of the word.

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1710, from bully (n.). Related: Bullied; bullying.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper