The Origin of Bully(inspired by the Oxford English Dictionary)
The word bully is first found in literature in the 1500s as a term of endearment similar to “sweetheart.” Though it was once used for males or females, it eventually became a term associated with males meaning a good friend, a companion, or a protector. After more than 150 years, the word’s meaning morphed towards gallant, a synonym of bully. However, it took on a darker meaning as time progressed towards our modern understanding of a tyrant and coward who terrorizes the weak.
This use solidified over the next 100 years to indicate a hired thug intent on violence and intimidation as well as a protector of prostitutes. Its use as a verb developed around this time period, representing actions undertaken by a bully such as intimidation, force, and frightening or threatening towards a certain course.