[ grou-lee ]
/ ˈgraʊ li /
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adjective, growl·i·er, growl·i·est.
resembling a growl in pitch and harshness: This cold has made my voice growly.
irritable; grouchy.
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Origin of growly

First recorded in 1915–20; growl + -y1


growl·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does growly mean?

Growly means resembling a growl—a deep, rumbling grrrrr sound made in the throat, like a guard dog makes when there is an intruder.

The verb growl means to make such a sound. Growling is typically interpreted as an attempt to intimidate or show hostility.

Growling is most often associated with dogs, but other animals can make growly sounds, such as bears. People can do this, too—a young child might make growly noises when throwing a tantrum. Sometimes, it’s used in the context of a thing that’s making a deep rumbling sound, as in There were a lot of growly engine noises coming from the garage.

In the context of people, the word growl is more commonly used in a figurative way meaning to say something in a low, gruff, angry tone, as in “Get out now!” he growled. 

For this reason, the word growly is sometimes used to mean grouchy or irritable.

Example: You know how growly he can get before he’s had his morning coffee.

Where does growly come from?

The first records of the word growly come from around 1920. Its base word, growl, comes from the Middle English groule, meaning “to rumble.” This word referred not to a rumbling of the throat but of the bowels.

We still use growl in this sense today—to say that your stomach is growly means that it is making rumbling sounds, typically because you’re hungry. The word growl always involves a low-pitched sound, but it also often implies that the sound is being made out of hostility or anger. Stomachs can’t get angry, of course, but saying that your stomach is growly can humorously imply that it’s upset because it wants more food.

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What are some other forms related to growly?

What are some synonyms for growly?

What are some words that often get used in discussing growly?


How is growly used in real life?

Growly can be used in the context of rumbling sounds, hungry stomachs, and grouchy people, but it’s not all that commonly used.


Try using growly!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of growly?

A. rumbly
B. high-pitched
C. grumbly
D. grouchy

How to use growly in a sentence