• definitions


[ bool-ee ]SEE DEFINITION OF bullies
  • noundomineering person
  • verbintimidate, push around

Synonyms for bullies

  • oppressor
  • rascal
  • annoyer
  • bulldozer
  • harrier
  • hector
  • persecutor
  • pest
  • rowdy
  • ruffian
  • tease
  • tormenter
  • tough
  • antagonizer
  • browbeater
  • coercer
  • insolent
  • intimidator
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Spottiswood is going to send his bullies down here after me.

He who bullies those who are not in a position to resist may be a snob, but cannot be a gentleman.

As he was leaving the Manege one of these bullies grossly insulted him.

On one occasion I had escaped from the attentions of some bullies into his room.

"Now, one thing more," said Gif, turning to the two bullies.

The bullies were called on to qualify under the eyes of the master.

I will not say as schoolboys do to bullies—Take some one of your own size; don't pommel me!

Bragg sits at the head of his table, and bullies the solitary Mrs. Bragg.

He thinks the Germans are not much worse than we are; he says that a good many of us are bullies too.

Rankers as officers are apt to be bullies: that we all know jolly well.


1530s, originally "sweetheart," applied to either sex, from Dutch boel "lover; brother," probably a diminutive of Middle Dutch broeder "brother" (cf. Middle High German buole "brother," source of German Buhle "lover;" see brother (n.)).

Meaning deteriorated 17c. through "fine fellow" and "blusterer" to "harasser of the weak" (1680s, from bully-ruffian, 1650s). Perhaps this was by influence of bull (n.1), but a connecting sense between "lover" and "ruffian" may be in "protector of a prostitute," which was one sense of bully (though not specifically attested until 1706). The expression meaning "worthy, jolly, admirable" (especially in 1864 U.S. slang bully for you!) is first attested 1680s, and preserves an earlier, positive sense of the word.