Word of the Day Archive
Sunday December 2, 2001
surly \SUR-lee\ , adjective:
1. Ill-humored; churlish in manner or mood; sullen and gruff.
2. Menacing or threatening in appearance, as of weather conditions; ominous.
Voters may be turned off by candidates who play dirty, but nothing gets a campaign reporter going like the smell of blood on the trail. Part of it has to do with boredom: journalists can only listen for so long to a candidate blather on about "a world of possibilities guided by goodness" before they get surly.
-- Michelle Cottle, "Nice Try", New Republic, February 14, 2000
Maggie drank a little too much and got surly and made snide comments during the final toast.
-- John L'Heureux, Having Everything
Surly is from Middle English sirly, "lordly," from sir, "lord," which eventually came to mean "arrogant or haughty," whence the more negative modern sense.