awful, inadequate
Both senses of the word have been be-loved by Valley Girls and their teenage im-itators in the USA since the mid-1970s. The word is thought to have originated in surfing jargon in the 1960s, referring to the texture of waves. By 1989 Tatler magazine reported the word as being in use among schoolboys at Eton. It is sometimes spelt narly.

Contemporary slang . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gnarly — Gnarl y, a. Full of knots; knotty; twisted; crossgrained. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gnarly — 1829, knotted and rugged, from gnarl (see GNARLED (Cf. gnarled)) + Y (Cf. y) (2). Picked up 1970s as surfer slang to describe a dangerous wave; it had spread in teen slang by 1982, where it meant both excellent and disgusting …   Etymology dictionary

  • gnarly — [adj] cool, excellent boss*, finest, great, hairy*, keen, magnificent, marvelous, neat, nifty, sensational, superb, swell, wonderful; concept 574 …   New thesaurus

  • gnarly — ► ADJECTIVE (gnarlier, gnarliest) 1) gnarled. 2) N. Amer. informal dangerous, challenging, or unpleasant …   English terms dictionary

  • gnarly — gnarl|y [ˈna:li US ˈna:r ] adj 1.) a gnarly tree or branch is rough and twisted with hard lumps = ↑gnarled 2.) gnarly hands or fingers are twisted, rough, and difficult to move, usually because they are old = ↑gnarled 3.) AmE spoken a word… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • gnarly — adjective (gnarlier; gnarliest) Date: 1773 1. gnarled 2. slang a. difficult, hairy < skidded around gnarly hairpin turns Austin Murphy > b. bad, nasty < has some pretty …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • gnarly — adjective /ˈnɑːli,ˈnɑrli/ a) having or characterized by gnarls; gnarled On the right of the station were two gnarly cottonwood trees... mdash; Mark Goodwin, Last Words b) dangerous When the swell struck, the North Shore got gnarly, and the wise… …   Wiktionary

  • gnarly — gnarl|y [ narli ] adjective 1. ) AMERICAN INFORMAL complicated and difficult to deal with: gnarly problems 2. ) AMERICAN INFORMAL OLD FASHIONED very good and exciting: AWESOME 3. ) GNARLED: gnarly roots …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • gnarly — I adj (Surfing) Big or difficult. He wiped out on a gnarly wave. 1980s II adj Excellent, outstanding. She does a really gnarly job at computer programming. 1980s …   Historical dictionary of American slang

  • gnarly — /ˈnali/ (say nahlee) adjective 1. Colloquial difficult; awkward: a gnarly problem. 2. Colloquial excellent; terrific: a gnarly surf. 3. → gnarled. {gnarl + y1} …   Australian English dictionary

  • gnarly — gnarliness, n. /nahr lee/, adj., gnarlier, gnarliest. 1. gnarled. 2. Slang. distasteful; distressing; offensive; gross: a comic noted for his gnarly humor. [1820 30; GNARL1 + Y1] * * * …   Universalium

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