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Language has a fascinating way of evolving over time, with words taking on new meanings and nuances. The word “bully” is a prime example of this evolution. From a term of endearment to a symbol of intimidation, the history of “bully” is a journey through the changing tides of language and culture.

The Origin of “Bully”:

The word “bully” can be traced back to the Dutch word “boel,” which originally meant “lover” or “brother.” In the 16th and 17th centuries, “bully” was used in English to describe a sweetheart or a close companion. It was a term of affection, a far cry from its current connotation.

A Timeline of “Bully”:

16th-17th Century: A Term of Endearment

  • “Bully” is used to refer to a fine fellow or a good friend.

  • Example: “He’s a jolly good bully, that one.”

18th Century: Shifting to Bravado

  • The word starts to describe those who exhibit swagger, bravado, or boastful behavior.

  • Example: “He’s quite the bully with his confident demeanor.”

19th Century: The Negative Connotation

  • “Bully” begins to take on a darker meaning, representing someone who uses strength or influence to intimidate or harm others.

  • Example: “Watch out for that bully; he’s causing trouble in the pub.”

20th Century: Schoolyard and Workplace Bullying

  • “Bully” is associated with those who engage in schoolyard bullying and workplace harassment.

  • Example: “Bullying in schools is a serious issue; we must address it.”

21st Century: The Era of Cyberbullying

  • “Bully” becomes linked with online harassment and cyberbullying.

  • Example: “Online bullies can be as harmful as physical bullies, causing emotional distress.”

Slang Usage of “Bully” Throughout History:

  • British slang has often embraced the word “bully” in various contexts.

  • “Bully pulpit” is a term referring to a position that provides one with the opportunity to speak out and be heard, often in a commanding or influential way.


The journey of the word “bully” is a testament to the malleability of language. From its Dutch origins as a term of endearment to its evolution into a symbol of intimidation, the history of “bully” reflects shifts in culture, societal attitudes, and the complex nature of language itself. As with many words, understanding its history reminds us of the power of language to convey evolving meanings and reflect our changing world.

Some additional sources:


Today I am sharting the note I wrote and wished that I sent to my son's music teachers. Somehow you hope that those instructors know that they make a difference. For all of the teachers out there, I hope our letter about our son is an acknowledgement from all the students who you've taught along the way. Music education transforms a student in many ways. We are so grateful for all that you do.

Hello music teachers,

We’d like to invite you to Jason’s senior showcase performance 2:30 pm on Saturday, June 3rd, at his high school.

To catch you up a bit, Jason continued on with music education though his secondary school career. Finally landing on voice and chamber choir by the end of junior year. He even entered the NATS Musical Theater competition. He placed 1st at State, and 3rd at regionals (OR, BC, WA, OR) in Upper Level Division, Tenor, Baritone, Bass. His high school chamber choir received its first invitation to the State completion in more than a decade. They placed 16th, making them a top 20 choir. Oregon has 124 choirs statewide.

Jason was cast as a principle in every show in Senior year. His focus on choir, theater, and musicals, has given him a deep appreciation for his musical education and a hunger for what he has yet to learn.

He was accepted into the Theater Arts Program, Musical Theater Concentration at Howard University, however, he decided not to go far from home. He is going to University of Oregon where he is currently undecided but plans to include music in his studies.

We are confident that this path of academic and personal discovery is the best option for him. He practices (piano, voice, ukulele) on his own. Listens to recordings, pulls out voicing, and invites friends over to harmonize while he comps on piano and sings.

Jason remembers and laughs at the days where he, his sister, and I practiced ear training at home, learned intervals, and I had to be so strict to get them to do their practice sessions. Recently, he told me, “I wish I was a better sight reader.” Alas, there is still time.

Jason has a lot to learn but he is willing. It has been amazing to watch this kid who took so many bathroom breaks in lessons, finally settle into finding joy in the camaraderie, execution, and performance of music and theater.

The program for Saturday’s June 3rd’s performance is attached. All are welcome.

We are so thankful for the role that each of you played in getting Jason to where he is today.

Practice sessions, scales, and sometimes pleading to get it done all added up to such a beautiful set of accomplishments. If only we had known, we might have enjoyed the process a bit more. In the end, our son has the building blocks that he needs. Music changed his perspective about what it takes to pursue a goal. He knows that pursuing a goal takes time, energy, love, and people who will support you. Sticking with a goal takes courage and the ability to trust the process, even when you might feel things aren't moving forward. Music education provides huge life lessons and the gift of learning how to appreciate what it takes to make music.

Parents hang in there. Support any positive interest that your child may have for their music education. Music education is a journey. Go along for the ride.


Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Last year, my heart was so full. After 3 years of separation, I flew to Canada to meet up with my sisters for my Dad's 80th birthday. I surprised him. I called him from the Toronto airport with my husband on the line and we delivered our birthday wishes together. He thought we were both at home on the west coast.

My Dad was shocked when a few hours later, I popped out from the kitchen to ask him if he wanted to have some Swiss Chalet for lunch. We messed up the filming of the actual moment. But, maybe that's for the best. Some moments are meant to be experienced and not recorded.

Family birthday celebration
80th Birthday Celebration

During my latest trip home, this summer, I surprised my Dad at work. The funniest part of the visit is how quickly our roles reversed. Dad was like a middle schooler whose space had been invaded. Dad was ready to get rid of me after twenty minutes with his coworkers. His coworkers are so welcoming. The group called on his 80th, they came out en force when our mother died, and they regaled me with amusing work stories when I visited.

Of course, the most important part of the equation is health.

My Dad loves being able. He loves going to work because his job is part of his fitness routine. Dad and I have talked about what it means to get older and he always comes back to appreciate for your health, keeping your body moving, and have somewhere to go or something to do that gives you purpose.

Dad at home depot working
This is the new 80

This is my dad and his work buddy. These two are in their 80s. Wait what??? We all have #goals. Please add 80s being the new 60s to your list. Love you Dad. Thanks for always standing for what you believe.

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