Main definitions of bully in English

: bully1bully2bully3bully4

bully1

nounPlural bullies

  • A person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.

    ‘he is a ranting, domineering bully’
    • ‘These core tasks include the defence of the nation, the protection of the citizens from the thugs and the bullies, and ensuring that key infrastructure, such as roads, are provided.’
    • ‘Psychologically, why do bullies always beat up on the defenceless?’
    • ‘We are so inured to the laxness and corruptness, that we defend the bullies and liars.’
    • ‘We are not the ones who contemplated suicide because we could no longer bear the terror that was being inflicted on us by gangs of thugs and bullies.’
    • ‘And because business is about groups and about interactions, bullies can dramatically harm almost any organization.’
    • ‘Perhaps he could not harm the bully, but the bully's favourite toy could be broken.’
    • ‘And if I believed that Christian faith and morality required meek submission to bullies and tyrants, I might have the same reaction.’
    • ‘McCarthy was a state-backed bully and demagogue who harmed many innocent people.’
    • ‘Techniques for dealing with a bully without becoming a thug are covered in the next chapter and then the focus widens to ‘Power and World Conflict’.’
    • ‘One concern the lead counsel might have is that their team will seem like a bunch of bullies: Too many lawyers around the courtroom could intimidate a jury.’
    • ‘Male bullies tend to use more physical violence than female bullies, although female bullies are increasingly using physical violence at an alarming rate.’
    • ‘The kid who was bullied becomes the bully, taunting, beating up fellow students, and intimidating teachers.’
    • ‘If we can all come together to make our parks safe, and we can all support zero tolerance in schools so that our children can enjoy a good education free from fear, intimidation and bullies, then we can surely do the same for our roads.’
    • ‘Again, the world is stood on its head: siding with the United States, the global bully, demonstrates strength.’
    • ‘They have to worry about a lot more than bullies and bad influences outside the home.’
    • ‘In their intimidation of the history profession they act as bullies.’
    • ‘Dealing with a bully without becoming a thug yourself is not wimpish, negative passivity.’
    • ‘It's similar to a kid joining sides with a bully just so the bully doesn't pick on him.’
    • ‘Many coaches are professional bullies and intimidators.’
    • ‘I'm not sure who told them it was wise to stand up to the schoolyard bully, but that same person may want to remind them that the bully is generally the bully because he can hit really, really hard.’
    persecutor, oppressor, tyrant, tormentor, browbeater, intimidator, coercer, subjugator
    View synonyms

verbbullied, bullying, bullies

[with object]
  • Seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable)

    ‘her 11- year-old son has been constantly bullied at school’
    ‘a local man was bullied into helping them’
    • ‘Did they think they had some right to bully me, to intimidate me, to own me?’
    • ‘They may also try to intimidate or bully us by threatening our communications networks and power distribution centers.’
    • ‘They can bully people and shove their ideas around because there is no support for those who challenge them.’
    • ‘He was bullied at school but was also hyperactive and a disruptive influence and ended up in care.’
    • ‘Just because the people in your old school bullied you, doesn't mean people will bully you in your new school.’
    • ‘The law gives him the power to bully military officers.’
    • ‘Once, he was bullied into crawling between the legs of one of them in public.’
    • ‘Her main strength is her hypocrisy, which she uses to bully the other teams into giving up luxuries that she herself uses daily.’
    • ‘A pregnant mother was spared a prison sentence after she was bullied into drug offences by her estranged partner.’
    • ‘Pester-power is an amazingly strong force, and children know how best to bully their parents into buying them what they want.’
    • ‘It's been used not only for fraud, but to bully people and give them a bad name.’
    • ‘There was no discernible reason for what you did other than your violent temper and your arrogant desire to bully other people.’
    • ‘You can't bully people into accepting your ideas.’
    • ‘Not only was she intimidated by the managers, she also alleges they bullied other staff members who wanted to join the union.’
    • ‘This has become a crusade by a single judge attempting to bully other people into accepting his beliefs.’
    • ‘They want to bully people like Jordan did, but without his results.’
    • ‘The union claimed the Royal Mail was trying to intimidate and bully workers into agreeing unacceptable working practices.’
    • ‘I may enjoy even less security than people in offices, but no boss can bully me, and I don't have to pretend to worship any company.’
    • ‘I feel that I was bullied into agreeing to take it and I don't think it's the right thing for me.’
    • ‘Jurors and the public in general doesn't want to see lawyers bully people unless, as I say, they kind of just feel the first punch.’
    persecute, oppress, tyrannize, torment, browbeat, intimidate, cow, coerce, strong-arm, subjugate, domineer
    coerce, pressure, pressurize, bring pressure to bear on, use pressure on, put pressure on, constrain, lean on, press, push
    View synonyms

Origin

Mid 16th century: probably from Middle Dutch boele ‘lover’. Original use was as a term of endearment applied to either sex; it later became a familiar form of address to a male friend. The current sense dates from the late 17th century.

Pronunciation

bully

/ˈbʊli/

Main definitions of bully in English

: bully1bully2bully3bully4

bully2

adjective

North American
informal
  • Very good; excellent.

    ‘the statue really looked bully’
    • ‘That is why this franchise is the closest yet to possibly, maybe, being that bully team the NFL has lacked since the Cowboys faded almost a decade ago.’
    • ‘It's a bully conclusion to a riveting journey through time.’

Phrases

  • bully for you! (or him etc.)

    • ironic Used to express admiration or approval.

      ‘he got away—bully for him!’
      • ‘And I say bully for him.’
      • ‘Yummy, bully for you!’
      • ‘Bully for her, and bully for you if you have a similar situation.’

Origin

Late 16th century (originally used of a person, meaning ‘admirable, gallant, jolly’): from bully. The current sense dates from the mid 19th century.

Pronunciation

bully

/ˈbʊli/

Main definitions of bully in English

: bully1bully2bully3bully4

bully3

(also bully beef)

nounPlural bullies

mass nouninformal
  • Corned beef.

    • ‘We had bacon too, bully beef, endless tea, and biscuits which were very hard.’
    • ‘She opened the back door only to see thrown down on the lawn an empty can of her bully beef and, to make matters worse, an empty tin of her cat's food!’
    • ‘They climb over each other, snatching spaghetti, Irish stew and bully beef from the air and each other.’

Origin

Mid 18th century: alteration of bouilli.

Pronunciation

bully

/ˈbʊli/

Main definitions of bully in English

: bully1bully2bully3bully4

bully4

nounPlural bullies

  • An act of starting play in field hockey, in which two opponents strike each other's sticks three times and then go for the ball.

    • ‘The game of hockey starts with a ‘bully-off’ (or ‘face-off’) for possession of the ball.’
    • ‘If there is a stop in action, the re-start is called a Bully.’
    • ‘Use the bully to put the ball into play when play has been stopped for injury.’
    • ‘The ball is put in play in midfield in a face-off, known as a bully.’

verbbullied, bullying, bullies

[no object]
  • (in field hockey) start play with a bully.

    • ‘Just like bullying off in hockey this game should be fast and furious, but the puck and sticks stay low and fingers are best kept out of the way!’
    • ‘To bully, both players simultaneously strike first the ground then each other's stick over the ball.’
    • ‘Every player shall be between the ball and his own goal line, except the two players who are bullying, who shall stand facing the side lines.’

Origin

Late 19th century (originally denoting a scrum in Eton football): of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

bully

/ˈbʊli/