[nahr-lee] /ˈnɑr li/

adjective, gnarlier, gnarliest.
Slang. distasteful; distressing; offensive; gross:
a comic noted for his gnarly humor.
another word for gnarled
(NZ, informal) good; great
(surfing, slang) difficult and dangerous

1829, “knotted and rugged,” from gnarl (see gnarled) + -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.”


[1980s+ Teenagers; said to have originated among 1970s surfers, describing a dangerous wave; this sense persisted among skateboarders until at least 1988]

/nar’lee/ Both obscure and hairy. “Yow! – the tuned assembler implementation of BitBlt is really gnarly!” From a similar but less specific usage in surfer slang.
[Jargon File]


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