We use the word "bully" to describe a person who hurts or harasses another person for pleasure. (or the person is just naturally mean.) A bully can be a child or an adult. Lately a lot of attention has been focused on bullying in American schools, but it can happen among adults in offices or neighborhoods. It’s a good word to learn about.

bully Reggie is a bully.

These sentences show how "bully" is used as a noun:

  • Everyone knows that Reggie is a bully.
  • Martha teases the people she works with in a very mean way. She’s nothing but a bully.
  • Some bullies at a local school made a girl so unhappy that she hanged herself.
  • Steve’s experiences as a child made him into a bully, and he knows it; however, he still goes out of his way to make others uncomfortable.
  • Many Americans think Donald Trump is a bully.

You can use "bully" as a verb:

  • Mike bullied a boy into giving up his lunch money.
  • I know a teenage girl who was bullied so much at school that she often stayed home. (This sentence uses the passive voice.)
  • My wife’s boss bullies his employees into working extra hours and on the weekends.
  • No one likes the way the police bullied the protestors with mace.

These sentences show how "bully" is used in the form of a gerund:

  • Bullying is a problem in some schools.
  • Parents were upset to learn that a situation involving bullying wasn’t addressed.
  • If you are a victim of bullying, you should seek help.

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This page was first published on May 8, 2012. It was updated on February 2, 2016.