adjective, bur·li·er, bur·li·est.

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 formsbur·li·ly, adverbbur·li·ness, nounun·bur·ly, adjective

Synonyms for burly

Antonyms for burly

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for burly


adjective -lier or -liest

large and thick of build; sturdy; stout
Derived Formsburliness, noun

Word Origin for burly

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

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