Definition of burly in English:



  • (of a person) large and strong; heavily built.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A burly gentleman in plain clothes is insisting that we need a permit to photograph Burns outside Lenin's tomb.’
    • ‘I sat cramped next to a burly fellow who obviously had a lot of faith in the medicinal qualities of garlic.’
    • ‘So I bombed out of the office, jumped into a cab and whizzed home, to find two burly men in overalls on the doorstep.’
    • ‘There were four burly men at the table, miners by the look of them, men who delved in the earth.’
    • ‘Just eyeball some of those burly boys who stand menacingly in the doorways and you'll get my drift.’
    • ‘If a burly gentleman doesn't challenge you to fisticuffs, the table is ready.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The singer Donovan turned up with his friend, a burly bloke called Gypsy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is a tall, burly man in his early 40s, with cropped hair, a friendly grin and a firm handshake.’
    • ‘The burly Peter started at centre forward and played his part in the Kilkenny win.’
    • ‘In the next-door compound, a burly man was whacking a skinny boy with a thick stick.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A large burly man was carrying a large rifle, his sword hanging by his waist, motioning to his men.’
    • ‘Blanche looked at him, a big burly man with an abdomen that was bulging over his belt which seemed much too tight for him.’
    • ‘The burly men with biceps will be competing in the grand final in a series of face-to-face bouts.’
    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, vigorous
    hunky, beefy, husky, hulking, ripped, shredded
    stalwart, thewy, stark
    View synonyms


Middle English (in the sense dignified, imposing): probably from an unrecorded Old English word meaning stately, fit for the bower (see bower, -ly).