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From port +‎ -ly.



portly (comparative portlier, superlative portliest)

  1. Somewhat fat, pudgy, overweight. [from 15th c.]
    • 1824, Geoffrey Crayon [pseudonym; Washington Irving], “Introduction”, in Tales of a Traveller, part 1 (Strange Stories. []), Philadelphia, Pa.: H[enry] C[harles] Carey & I[saac] Lea, [], OCLC 864083:
      Indeed, the poor man has grown ten times as nervous as ever, since he has discovered, on such good authority, who the stout gentleman was. . . . He has anxiously endeavored to call up a recollection of what he saw of that portly personage; and has ever since kept a curious eye on all gentlemen of more than ordinary dimensions.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 32, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 151:
      In the length he attains, and in his baleen, the Fin-back resembles the right whale, but is of a less portly girth, and a lighter colour, approaching to olive.
    • 1913, P. G. Wodehouse, The Little Nugget, ch. 14:
      His portly middle section, rising beyond like a small hill, heaved rhythmically.
    • 2011 July 6, Nick Carbone, "Top 10 Worst Fictional Camp Counselors," Time (retrieved 8 May 2014):
      In Heavyweights, Tony Perkis (Ben Stiller) is a fitness guru who installs himself as the über-buff leader of Camp Hope, with the goal of helping portly youngsters shed their saggy stomachs and thunder thighs.
  2. (now rare) Having a dignified bearing; handsome, imposing. [from 15th c.]

Usage notes[edit]

  • When used to refer to someone who is overweight, portly is a less harsh term than fat.


Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]

  • portly at OneLook Dictionary Search