You might still have terrifying dreams about the bully who harassed you on the playground in second grade. A bully is someone who intimidates people, usually those who are weaker or smaller.

The classic example of a bully is a mean kid in a schoolyard who hassles or beats up younger students. While a child or a teenager can be a bully, so is anyone who uses power or strength to scare or harm other people. The word bully has gone through a mysterious evolution, from the 1530s when it meant "sweetheart," through the 17th century's meanings of "fine fellow," then "blusterer," and finally "harasser of the weak."

Primary Meanings of bully

discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate
a cruel and brutal fellow
very good
Full Definitions of bully

v discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate

browbeat, swagger
Type of:
blarney, cajole, coax, inveigle, palaver, sweet-talk, wheedle
influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering

v be bossy towards

“Her big brother always bullied her when she was young”
ballyrag, boss around, browbeat, bullyrag, hector, push around, strong-arm
domineer, tyrannise, tyrannize
rule or exercise power over (somebody) in a cruel and autocratic manner
Type of:
make timid or fearful

n a cruel and brutal fellow

hooligan, roughneck, rowdy, ruffian, tough, yob, yobbo, yobo
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a swaggering tough; usually one acting as an agent of a political faction
muscle, muscleman
a bully employed as a thug or bodyguard
a young person who belongs to a British or American group that shave their heads and gather at rock concerts or engage in white supremacist demonstrations
plug-ugly, tough guy
someone who bullies weaker people
Ted, Teddy boy
a tough youth of 1950's and 1960's wearing Edwardian style clothes
Type of:
aggressor, assailant, assaulter, attacker
someone who attacks

n a hired thug

Type of:
goon, hood, hoodlum, punk, strong-armer, thug, tough, toughie
an aggressive and violent young criminal

adj very good

“he did a bully job”
bang-up, corking, cracking, dandy, great, groovy, keen, neat, nifty, not bad, peachy, slap-up, smashing, swell
having desirable or positive qualities especially those suitable for a thing specified

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