adj (Surfing) Big or difficult. He wiped out on a gnarly wave. 1980s
adj Excellent, outstanding. She does a really gnarly job at computer programming. 1980s

Historical dictionary of American slang . 2014.

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

  • 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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