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.
 
In the last 10 years, cyber-bully has arisen as a new derivative of the word bully. Its primary use today indicates a person who participates in bullying activities using the techniques provided by technology such as text and images posted online to intimidate and threaten.
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.
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