Thursday, December 11, 2008


The word bully has careened through history like a drunken sailor. For one thing, there were seven separate bullies.

Bully-1 has had these meanings:

• a term of endearment equivalent to sweetheart, later applied only to men
• a companion or mate
• a tyrannical coward who preys on the weak
• a ruffian hired to intimidate
• the protector of a prostitute

• Bully-2 applied to sports: in Eton football it meant a scrimmage, and in field hockey, it was a procedure for putting the ball in play.
• Bully-3 was a cottage or hut.
• Bully-4 was a species of tree found in the West Indies and Guyana.
• Bully-5 was pickled or tinned beef.
• Bully-6 was a pattern of miner’s hammer.
• Bully-7 was a dialectical name for a fish.

SIDEBAR: Helping kids deal with bullies

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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