General English


  • adjective excellent. A reversal along the lines of bad, wicked, brutal, etc., heard in youth slang since the late 1990s.
  • noun (something) difficult, hard to achieve, problematical. A teenage vogue term from 1987, in use among the successors of Valley Girls and preppies, among others. It may originate in black street slang, where standard terms are often appropriated for use as gang code words, or from surfers’ slang.

Origin & History of “burly”

Burly has come down in the world over the centuries. Originally it meant ‘excellent, noble, stately’, and it appears to come from an unrecorded Old English adjective *būrlic, literally ‘bowerly’ – that is, ‘fit to frequent a lady’s apartment’. Gradually, connotations of ‘stoutness’ and ‘sturdiness’ began to take over, and by the 15th century the modern ‘heavily built’ had become well established.