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surly

[sur-lee] /ˈsɜr li/
adjective, surlier, surliest.
1.
churlishly rude or bad-tempered:
a surly waiter.
2.
unfriendly or hostile; menacingly irritable:
a surly old lion.
3.
dark or dismal; menacing; threatening:
a surly sky.
Synonyms: ominous.
4.
Obsolete. lordly; arrogant.
Origin
1560-1570
1560-70; spelling variant of obsolete sirly lordly, arrogant, equivalent to sir + -ly
Related forms
surlily, adverb
surliness, noun
unsurlily, adverb
unsurliness, noun
unsurly, adjective
Synonym Study
Glum, morose, sullen, dour, surly all are adjectives describing a gloomy, unsociable attitude. Glum describes a depressed, spiritless condition or manner, usually temporary rather than habitual: a glum shrug of the shoulders; a glum, hopeless look in his eye. Morose, which adds to glum a sense of bitterness, implies a habitual and pervasive gloominess: a sour, morose manner; morose withdrawal from human contact. Sullen usually implies reluctance or refusal to speak accompanied by glowering looks expressing anger or a sense of injury: a sullen manner, silence, look. Dour refers to a stern and forbidding aspect, stony and unresponsive: dour rejection of friendly overtures. Surly implies gruffness of speech and manner, usually accompanied by an air of injury and ill temper: a surly reply.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for surly
  • We trailed them to the other side, but another surly elephant drove us off and sent the entire pride into hiding.
  • On the other hand, surly comebacks and even noncontact can cost you more than you realize.
  • Nevertheless they tease and worry, poke and tickle the animal continually, so that he is surly and snappish.
  • He cannot stand apart in surly and haughty egotism: let him learn that he is as much dependent on others as others are on him.
  • They were lifted by insolence above their car loans, their surly arrears, their misspent matrimonies.
  • The early euphoria could rapidly fizzle into surly disappointment.
  • Filled with fresh energy and enthusiasm will surly help in taking bold decisions.
  • The burgers got their nickname after a tourist wrote to the local paper complaining about surly service.
  • If paying to file your income taxes makes you surly, it's time to start working on your snarl.
  • He even thinks fondly of the surly drill instructors who shouted in his face.
British Dictionary definitions for surly

surly

/ˈsɜːlɪ/
adjective -lier, -liest
1.
sullenly ill-tempered or rude
2.
(of an animal) ill-tempered or refractory
3.
dismal
4.
(obsolete) arrogant
Derived Forms
surlily, adverb
surliness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from obsolete sirly haughty; see sir
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
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Word Origin and History for surly
adj.

1560s, "lordly, majestic," alteration of Middle English sirly "lordly, imperious" (14c.), from sir. The meaning "rude, gruff" is first attested 1660s. For sense development, cf. lordly, and German herrisch "domineering, imperious," from Herr "master, lord."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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