From Middle English unruly (“unquiet, restless”), equivalent to un- + rule + -ly (compare Middle English ruly, reuli (“subject to a religious rule, regular”)), but also representing a modified continuation of earlier Middle English unrouly, unroly (“unquiet, restless”), equivalent to un- + roolie. The latter is perhaps from or influenced by Old Norse *úróligr, related to Danish urolig (“restless”), Swedish orolig (“restless”), Icelandic órólegur (“agitated”). Compare also Middle English unroo, unro (“unrest”). More at roo.
- Wild; uncontrolled.
- The police gathered to contain the unruly mob.
- 1985, Morrissey & Johnny Marr (lyrics and music), “Barbarism Begins at Home”, in Meat Is Murder, performed by The Smiths:
- Unruly boys who will not grow up / Must be taken in hand / Unruly girls who will not settle down / They must be taken in hand
- 2011 Allen Gregory, "Pilot" (season 1, episode 1):
- Richard DeLongpre: Are you okay, my boy angel?
- Allen Gregory DeLongpre: I have a broken heart. And undergarments filled with my own unruly waste.