Posted: 13 May 2008 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  3133
Joined  2007-01-30

Well, whoda thunk it?

In short, the word surly is no more than an alteration of sirly, which meant lordly, haughty, imperious, acting like a sir in fact. We can follow the development in OED.

sirly, a.

Obs., rare

[f. SIR n. + -LY1. Cf. SURLY a.]

Lordly, haughty, imperious

c1350 Will. Palerne 3316 Now William..stifli forth rides, so serreli thurth the cite al him-self one, that eche weigh was a-wondred. 1570 LEVINS Manip. 100 Serly, imperiosus. 1579 SPENSER Sheph. Cal. July 203 Sike syrlye shepheards han we none, They keepen all the path. 1600 HOLLAND Livy XXXV. xxxviii. 911 Syrly lords (say they) were the Macedonians, and rigorous. 1648 J. BEAUMONT Psyche XIX. i, Thine own erected head To far more solid Wretchedness doth bow Than ever made the vilest Reptile be The foot~stool of Contempt to sirly Thee.

surly, a.

[Altered spelling of SIRLY a.]

1. Lordly, majestic Obs., rare

1566 DRANT tr. Horace, Sat. I. ii. Bjb, How he doth decke, and dighte His surlye corps in rytche aray.

2.  a. Masterful, imperious; haughty, arrogant, supercilious. Obs.

c1572 I. B. in Gascoigne Posies (1575), The sauerie sappes in Gascoignes Flowers that are,..Could not content the surly for their share, Ne cause them once to yeeld him thankes therefore. 1726 POPE Odyss. XXIII. 50 Stern as the surly lion o’er his prey.

3. a. Churlishly ill-humoured; rude and cross; ‘gloomily morose’ (J.). Said of persons (or animals), or their actions or attributes.

1670 RAY Prov. 208 As surly as a butchers dog. 1677 OTWAY Cheats of Scapin I. i, Thou art as surly as if thou really couldst do me no good. 1722 DE FOE Col. Jack (1840) 7 Captain Jack..a surly, ill-looked rough boy, had not a word in his mouth that savoured either of good manners, or good humour. 1757 SMOLLETT Reprisal I. i, Commend me to the blunt sincerity of the true surly British mastiff. 1770 GOLDSM. Des. Vill. 105 Nor surly porter stands in guilty state. 1807 CRABBE Par. Reg. III. 245 And surly beggars cursed the ever-bolted door. 1840 DICKENS Old C. Shop xvi, A surly, grumbling manner. 1865 KINGSLEY Herew. xix, A surly voice asked who was there. 1884 F. M. CRAWFORD Rom. Singer ix. I. 187 Dry throats make surly answers, as the proverb says.

Fascinating (and telling) shift in meaning!

Posted: 13 May 2008 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  3529
Joined  2007-01-31

I have to admit, if I’d heard that origin from a random stranger, I would not have put any credence in it.  Remarkable!

Posted: 13 May 2008 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  873
Joined  2007-06-20

I’ve told you before - don’t call me sirly.

Posted: 13 May 2008 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  4707
Joined  2007-01-29

Remarkable indeed—thanks, aldi!

Posted: 13 May 2008 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  4142
Joined  2007-02-27

What a wonderful piece of news.

Posted: 14 May 2008 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Total Posts:  20
Joined  2008-03-23

Dry throats make surly answers, as the proverb says.

There’s a Surly Beer brewed here in Minneapolis - by an Iranian-American, no less -
that’s been winning awards:

I’d been meaning to write about Surly for a while, and there seemed to be lots of recent events to peg the story to—for instance, in June a beer magazine,, had judged Surly Darkness, the brewery’s Russian Imperial Stout, to be the best American beer in the whole entire world. (Surly Darkness has, as of this writing, slipped to the second-best American beer and fourth-place in the whole wide world, possibly due to the fact that the beer is only available seasonally and is sold out until Halloween.) Another magazine, Beer Advocate, also just named Surly the No. 1 best brewery in the entire U.S. of A. No, seriously. They did. (City Pages)

And a lordly beer it is.


Posted: 14 May 2008 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

The site doesn’t vouchsafe where the name “Surly” came from, unless I missed it. I was rather hoping Omar Ansari had come across the original meaning and had adopted the name in a spirit of devilment.