From Middle English unruly (“unquiet, restless”), interpreted as 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 an Old Norse word related to Danish urolig (“restless”), Swedish orolig (“restless”), Icelandic órólegur (“agitated”). Compare also Middle English unroo, unro (“unrest”). More at roo.
- Rhymes: -uːli
unruly (plurale tantum)