[ nahr-lee ]
/ ˈnɑr li /

adjective, gnarl·i·er, gnarl·i·est.

Slang. distasteful; distressing; offensive; gross: a comic noted for his gnarly humor.

Origin of gnarly

First recorded in 1820–30; gnarl1 + -y1
Related formsgnarl·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gnarly

British Dictionary definitions for gnarly


/ (ˈnɑːlɪ) /


another word for gnarled
NZ informal good; great
surfing slang difficult and dangerous
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 gnarly



1829, "knotted and rugged," from gnarl (see gnarled) + -y (2). Picked up 1970s as surfer slang to describe a dangerous wave; it had spread in teen slang by 1982, where it meant both "excellent" and "disgusting."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper