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From Middle English unruly (unquiet, restless), equivalent to un- +‎ rule +‎ -ly (compare Middle English ruly, reuli (subject to a religious rule, regular)), but also representing a modified continuation of earlier Middle English unrouly, unroly (unquiet, restless), equivalent to un- +‎ roolie. The latter is perhaps from or influenced by Old Norse *úróligr, related to Danish urolig (restless), Swedish orolig (restless), Icelandic órólegur (agitated). Compare also Middle English unroo, unro (unrest). More at roo.



unruly (comparative unrulier, superlative unruliest)

  1. Wild; uncontrolled.
    The police gathered to contain the unruly mob.
    • 2011 Allen Gregory, "Pilot" (season 1, episode 1):
      Richard DeLongpre: Are you okay, my boy angel?
      Allen Gregory DeLongpre: I have a broken heart. And undergarments filled with my own unruly waste.