What does surly mean?

Definitions for surly
ˈsɜr lisur·ly

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word surly.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. surly, uglyadjective

    inclined to anger or bad feelings with overtones of menace

    "a surly waiter"; "an ugly frame of mind"


  1. surlyadverb

    In an arrogant or supercilious manner.

  2. surlyadjective

    Lordly, arrogant, supercilious.

  3. surlyadjective

    Irritated, bad-tempered, unfriendly.

  4. surlyadjective

    Threatening, menacing, gloomy.

    The surly weather put us all in a bad mood.

  5. Etymology: Sixteenth-century alteration of sirly, from sir + -ly.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. SURLYadjective

    Gloomily morose; rough; uncivil; sour; silently angry.

    Etymology: from sur, sour , Saxon.

    ’Tis like you’ll prove a jolly surly groom,
    That take it on you at the first so roundly. William Shakespeare.

    That surly spirit, melancholy,
    Had bak’d thy blood, and made it heavy thick,
    Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,
    Making that ideot laughter keep mens eyes,
    And strain their cheeks to idle merriment. William Shakespeare, K. John.

    Against the Capitol I met a lion,
    Who glar’d upon me, and went surly by,
    Without annoying me. William Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar.

    Repuls’d by surly grooms, who wait before
    The sleeping tyrant’s interdicted door. Dryden.

    What if among the courtly tribe
    You lost a place, and sav’d a bribe?
    And then in surly mood came here
    To fifteen hundred pounds a year,
    And fierce against the whigs harangu’d? Jonathan Swift.

    The zephyrs floating loose, the timely rains,
    Now soften’d into joy the surly storms. James Thomson, Summer.


  1. surly

    Surly is an adjective used to describe a person or their behavior as rude, bad-tempered, unfriendly, or ill-humored. It typically conveys a sense of gruffness, irritability, or sullenness.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Surlyadjective

    arrogant; haughty

  2. Surlyadjective

    gloomily morose; ill-natured, abrupt, and rude; severe; sour; crabbed; rough; sullen; gloomy; as, a surly groom; a surly dog; surly language; a surly look

  3. Surlyadjective

    rough; dark; tempestuous

  4. Etymology: [Probably from sir, and originally meaning, sirlike, i.e., proud. See Sir, and Like, a.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Surly

    sur′li, adj. morose: uncivil: tempestuous.—adv. Sur′lily.—n. Sur′liness. [For sir-ly, for sir-like, arrogant.]

How to pronounce surly?

How to say surly in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of surly in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of surly in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of surly in a Sentence

  1. John Gillespie Magee:

    Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.

  2. Maya Angelou:

    If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers.

  3. Maya Angelou:

    If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning Good morning at total strangers.

  4. Robert Burns:

    When chill November's surly blast make fields and forest bare.

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Translations for surly

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • überheblichGerman
  • κατσούφηςGreek
  • malhumorado, irritado, inamistosoSpanish
  • hapan, uhkaava, koppava, pahantuulinen, pöyhkeä, töykeäFinnish
  • autoritaire, grognon, impoli, rude, arrogant, menaçant, morne, grincheuxFrench
  • mosachIrish
  • gruamachScottish Gaelic
  • scontrosoItalian
  • 無愛想なJapanese
  • arrogant, knorrig, onbeleefd, mistroostig, bazig, bars, bedreigendDutch
  • угрожающий, грубый, сердитый, грозный, неприветливый, спеси́вый, угрюмый, надменный, высокоме́рныйRussian
  • buttreSwedish

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"surly." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 May 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/surly>.

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