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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."
Burlesque: even when Buttons was in burly
Very difficult; tricky; dangerous: Check out his burly disaster slide (1990s+ Snowboarders & skateboarders)