From Middle English burly, burely, borly, burlich, borlich, borlic (“tall, stately”), of uncertain origin. Cognate with Scots burely, burly (“rough, stout, sturdy, strong”). Perhaps from Old English *būrlīċ (“noble, stately”, literally “bowerly”), equivalent to bower + -ly; or from Old English *byrlīċ (“high, raised”), from byre (“raised area, mound”), cognate with Old High German burlīh, purlīh (“lofty, elevated, high, exalted”), related to Old High German burjan (“to raise, lift, push up”). See burgeon.
- bowerly (dialectal)
- (usually of a man) Large, well-built, and muscular.
- He's a big, burly rugby player who works as a landscape gardener.
- 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter III:
- She was frankly disappointed. For some reason she had thought to discover a burglar of one or another accepted type—either a dashing cracksman in full-blown evening dress, lithe, polished, pantherish, or a common yegg, a red-eyed, unshaven burly brute in the rags and tatters of a tramp.
- (Britain, slang, East End of London) Great, amazing, unbelievable.
- That goal was burly.
- Räikkönen is a burly Formula 1 driver.
- (US, slang, surf culture and/or Southern California) Of large magnitude, either good or bad, and sometimes both.
- That wave was burly! (i.e. large, dangerous and difficult to ride)
- This hike is going to be burly, but worth it because there is good body surfing at that beach.