Surely vs surly

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Surely and surly are two words that are close in pronunciation and spelling, but have different meanings. They are often confused. We will examine the definitions of surely and surly, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Surely means that something is certain, that something is bound to happen. Surely can be used as an adverb to stress someone’s confidence or lack of doubt pertaining to something. Surely is an adverb, derived from the Old French word sur meaning secure or not doubted, and the suffix -ly which means has the qualities of.

Surly describes someone who is hostile, rude, bad-tempered or arrogant. Surly is an adjective, related words are surlier, surliest, surliness. The word surly is derived from the Middle English word sirly which means haughty or lordly, first used in the 1300s.


Shahid and Mira are surely enjoying their weekend and we do hope they keep on sharing glimpses from their dates with us. (The Times Now)

Surely, if you thought about adulthood as much as I do – what makes a responsible human, a good friend and thoughtful citizen – you would (by now) have a sense of what obstacles you need to overcome, which milestones to reach or what skills to develop. (The Guardian)

James Aitken, whose company offers luxury tours to overseas visitors, believes that the country’s reputation is being damaged by dated hotels and surly attitudes. (The Times)

Given the circumstances of this match—one that will be rejected by a surly New York crowd in a sports market starved for both attention and championships—WWE will need to pull out as many bells and whistles as possible to avoid a repeat of the stadium-wide paid protest that befell Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania 34. (Forbes Magazine)