Unruly means lacking in restraint or not submitting to authority. Spitballs, shouting kids, a shouting teacher — these are all signs of an unruly classroom. Often, one unruly student is all it takes.

It's easy to see how un- ("not") and ruly ("rule") create a word that is all about not following rules. When someone is unruly, they've thrown the rules out of the window. An unruly person refuses to obey authority, while an unruly piece of hair might refuse to stay inside a clip. And if a cat herder had trouble corralling kittens for a parade, there would be unruly kittens everywhere!

Definitions of unruly

adj unable to be governed or controlled

“the little boy's parents think he is spirited, but his teacher finds him unruly
indocile, uncontrollable, ungovernable
difficult, unmanageable
hard to control

adj unwilling to submit to authority

unruly teenagers”
not submissive to authority

adj noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline

“an unruly class”
boisterous, rambunctious, robustious, rumbustious
undisciplined and unruly

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