Main definitions of bully in English

: bully1bully2bully3bully4

bully1

noun

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

    ‘he is a ranting, domineering bully’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They have to worry about a lot more than bullies and bad influences outside the home.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The kid who was bullied becomes the bully, taunting, beating up fellow students, and intimidating teachers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Again, the world is stood on its head: siding with the United States, the global bully, demonstrates strength.’
    • ‘We are so inured to the laxness and corruptness, that we defend the bullies and liars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many coaches are professional bullies and intimidators.’
    • ‘Male bullies tend to use more physical violence than female bullies, although female bullies are increasingly using physical violence at an alarming rate.’
    • ‘Perhaps he could not harm the bully, but the bully's favourite toy could be broken.’
    • ‘And because business is about groups and about interactions, bullies can dramatically harm almost any organization.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Psychologically, why do bullies always beat up on the defenceless?’
    • ‘It's similar to a kid joining sides with a bully just so the bully doesn't pick on him.’
    persecutor, oppressor, tyrant, tormentor, browbeater, intimidator, coercer, subjugator
    View synonyms

verb

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

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.

    • ‘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!’
    • ‘We had bacon too, bully beef, endless tea, and biscuits which were very hard.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The game of hockey starts with a ‘bully-off’ (or ‘face-off’) for possession of the ball.’
    • ‘The ball is put in play in midfield in a face-off, known as a bully.’
    • ‘If there is a stop in action, the re-start is called a Bully.’

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/