1570s, "haughty, imperious," alteration of Middle English sirly "lordly, imperious" (14c.), literally "like a sir," from sir + -ly (1). The meaning "rude, gruff" is first attested 1660s. For sense development, compare lordly, and German herrisch "domineering, imperious," from Herr "master, lord." Related: Surliness.
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