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Re: BULLY FOR YOU

Posted by TheFallen on May 08, 2003

In Reply to: BULLY FOR YOU posted by John Faith (Cyprus) on May 08, 2003

: The phrase 'Bully for you' (or him) Means 'good for you' (or him) but where does it derive from? In Shakespeare the use of the word 'bully' is not as we know it to-day. i.e. in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Peter Quince refers to Nick Bottom as, "Good bully Bottom"

You're right. In older times, the word "bully" also had a couple of positive meanings, the only trace of which is left in the expression "bully for you", which is still occasionally used in British English - I can't comment on US English. I've most heard it used in a derisive or sarcastic way, along the lines of "Well then, aren't *YOU* the clever one?".

This from the American Heritage Dictionary:-

bully
NOUN:
1. A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.
2. A hired ruffian; a thug.
3. A pimp.
4. Archaic A fine person.
5. Archaic A sweetheart.

TRANSITIVE VERB:
1. To treat in an overbearing or intimidating manner.
2. To make (one's way) aggressively.
INTRANSITIVE VERB:
1. To behave like a bully.
2. To force one's way aggressively or by intimidation.
ADJECTIVE: Excellent; splendid.

INTERJECTION: Used to express approval: Bully for you!

ETYMOLOGY: Possibly from Middle Dutch boele, sweetheart, probably alteration of broeder, brother.

And from the same source, not to forget...

bully
NOUN:
Canned or pickled beef. Also called bully beef.

ETYMOLOGY: Perhaps French bouilli, boiled meat, label on canned beef, from past participle of bouillir, to boil, from Old French boilir.