One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(of a person) large and strong; heavily built.
strapping, well built, sturdy, sturdily built, powerfully built, broad-shouldered, brawny, strong, muscular, muscly, well muscled, athletic, thickset, big, hefty, bulky, robust, rugged, stocky, lusty, herculean, vigorousView synonyms
- ‘A large burly man was carrying a large rifle, his sword hanging by his waist, motioning to his men.’
- ‘Just eyeball some of those burly boys who stand menacingly in the doorways and you'll get my drift.’
- ‘I sat cramped next to a burly fellow who obviously had a lot of faith in the medicinal qualities of garlic.’
- ‘The singer Donovan turned up with his friend, a burly bloke called Gypsy.’
- ‘At one point down York Street I saw a rugby ball fly over the road and some burly blokes by the Hook Line and Sinker tried to push a bus.’
- ‘I saw one burly man whipping his horse with one of these and received a mouthful of abuse when I pleaded with him to stop.’
- ‘I could only grunt in response, as by that stage his two burly assistants had bundled me in to a chair and strapped me down.’
- ‘She had been clamped by the time she got outside, and two burly men demanded £125 to have her car released.’
- ‘The burly Peter started at centre forward and played his part in the Kilkenny win.’
- ‘The burly men with biceps will be competing in the grand final in a series of face-to-face bouts.’
- ‘In the next-door compound, a burly man was whacking a skinny boy with a thick stick.’
- ‘He is a tall, burly man in his early 40s, with cropped hair, a friendly grin and a firm handshake.’
- ‘Blanche looked at him, a big burly man with an abdomen that was bulging over his belt which seemed much too tight for him.’
- ‘There were four burly men at the table, miners by the look of them, men who delved in the earth.’
- ‘He could then tell you that a couple of burly bobbies were hiding behind the hedge, stopwatch in hand, ready to bring you to book.’
- ‘If a burly gentleman doesn't challenge you to fisticuffs, the table is ready.’
- ‘So I bombed out of the office, jumped into a cab and whizzed home, to find two burly men in overalls on the doorstep.’
- ‘A burly gentleman in plain clothes is insisting that we need a permit to photograph Burns outside Lenin's tomb.’
- ‘The burly man stared at him and took his arm, leading the young man across the street.’
- ‘Julian was watching a burly man with beard and sunburn make his way across the lobby.’
Middle English (in the sense ‘dignified, imposing’): probably from an unrecorded Old English word meaning ‘stately, fit for the bower’(see bower, -ly).
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