adjective, bur·li·er, bur·li·est.

  1. large in bodily size; stout; sturdy.
  2. bluff; brusque.

adjective -lier or -liest

  1. large and thick of build; sturdy; stout

c.1300, perhaps from Old English burlic “noble, stately,” literally “bowerly,” fit to frequent a lady’s apartment (see bower). Sense descended through “stout,” and “sturdy” by 15c. to “heavily built.” Another theory connects the Old English word to Old High German burlih “lofty, exalted,” related to burjan “to raise, lift.”

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