Main definitions of bully in English

: bully1bully2bully3bully4

bully1

noun

  • A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.

    ‘he is a ranting, domineering bully’
    • ‘Dealing with a bully without becoming a thug yourself is not wimpish, negative passivity.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And if I believed that Christian faith and morality required meek submission to bullies and tyrants, I might have the same reaction.’
    • ‘They have to worry about a lot more than bullies and bad influences outside the home.’
    • ‘Male bullies tend to use more physical violence than female bullies, although female bullies are increasingly using physical violence at an alarming rate.’
    • ‘Again, the world is stood on its head: siding with the United States, the global bully, demonstrates strength.’
    • ‘The kid who was bullied becomes the bully, taunting, beating up fellow students, and intimidating teachers.’
    • ‘McCarthy was a state-backed bully and demagogue who harmed many innocent people.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We are so inured to the laxness and corruptness, that we defend the bullies and liars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In their intimidation of the history profession they act as bullies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's similar to a kid joining sides with a bully just so the bully doesn't pick on him.’
    • ‘And because business is about groups and about interactions, bullies can dramatically harm almost any organization.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘Many coaches are professional bullies and intimidators.’
    • ‘Perhaps he could not harm the bully, but the bully's favourite toy could be broken.’
    • ‘Psychologically, why do bullies always beat up on the defenceless?’
    persecutor, oppressor, tyrant, tormentor, browbeater, intimidator, coercer, subjugator
    View synonyms

verb

[with object]
  • Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.

    ‘a local man was bullied into helping them’
    • ‘Not only was she intimidated by the managers, she also alleges they bullied other staff members who wanted to join the union.’
    • ‘Just because the people in your old school bullied you, doesn't mean people will bully you in your new school.’
    • ‘You can't bully people into accepting your ideas.’
    • ‘Did they think they had some right to bully me, to intimidate me, to own me?’
    • ‘Once, he was bullied into crawling between the legs of one of them in public.’
    • ‘The union claimed the Royal Mail was trying to intimidate and bully workers into agreeing unacceptable working practices.’
    • ‘The law gives him the power to bully military officers.’
    • ‘They may also try to intimidate or bully us by threatening our communications networks and power distribution centers.’
    • ‘A pregnant mother was spared a prison sentence after she was bullied into drug offences by her estranged partner.’
    • ‘They want to bully people like Jordan did, but without his results.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was no discernible reason for what you did other than your violent temper and your arrogant desire to bully other people.’
    • ‘I feel that I was bullied into agreeing to take it and I don't think it's the right thing for me.’
    • ‘It's been used not only for fraud, but to bully people and give them a bad name.’
    • ‘They can bully people and shove their ideas around because there is no support for those who challenge them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was bullied at school but was also hyperactive and a disruptive influence and ended up in care.’
    • ‘Pester-power is an amazingly strong force, and children know how best to bully their parents into buying them what they want.’
    • ‘Her main strength is her hypocrisy, which she uses to bully the other teams into giving up luxuries that she herself uses daily.’
    • ‘This has become a crusade by a single judge attempting to bully other people into accepting his beliefs.’
    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)

noun

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

noun

  • 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.

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

verb

[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!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To bully, both players simultaneously strike first the ground then each other's stick over the ball.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

bully

/ˈbʊli/