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Despite bastardization in recent years to the alternate (Read: "Gay") spelling, Narley, gnarley is akin to rad - a late-1980s - early-1990s term, meaning "exceptional", or "cool". Developed on the West Coast, and used primarily by sufers and skateboarders.
"Hey bra, d'dya scope that gnarley tide?"
"Tscha! That was a ripple, man!"
by Der Capitan January 14, 2004
185 91
Contemporarily, "gnarley", as used in Hawaii, means: (1) rugged, difficult, burley; or (2)nasty, rank, disgusting. Quite different from the stereotypical-SoCal-surfer usage of the word.
(1) -Dude, that test was so frickin' gnarley!
-I know! I definitely got worked.

(2) -Somebody passed out in their own barf at that party last night.
-Awwww, gnarley!
by HI*Girl February 05, 2005
86 38
a word meaning a step above intense, it can be positive or negative.
dude this is a gnarley wave!

last night my girl and i hooked up, it was so gnarley.

dude1:he passed out in his own puke
dude2: ewww gnarley!
by andresbabii July 14, 2009
35 10
(Note: See other definitions for gnarley.)

Used to describe the level of extreme-ness of a given scenario/subject.

When viewed this way, it should easily clear up the common misconception that more recent usage deviates from the traditional Pacific/West Coast terminology.
(1): the skate park up the street sucks for rookies, but there's hella opportunity for experienced skaters to to do some really gnarley tricks.

(2): did you see that kid braggin' how he can do a 900° better than tony hawk? dude totally fucked up & tripped and fell off the top of the ramp before he even dropped in. it was fuckin' gnarley dude- the bone actually broke through the skin and stuck out of his arm when it snapped..there was blood everywhere, fuckin' unreal!
by TWiSTiDLiTTiLFUCK June 25, 2007
33 14
A word that means 'rad' or 'awesome', commonly used by surfers, skateboarders or snowboarders.
"That was a gnarley stack you had out there today man"

"Those were some gnarley waves you rode today dude"

"That was some gnarley powder"
by Gnarley_Sister August 02, 2006
34 17
1. awesome! 2. (a very recent defintion) bad, nasty, gross, etc.
for definition 2: Yeah, and he threw up all over. It was just gnarley, man.
by sayWHUTTE September 18, 2006
78 70
same as crazy. this term can be used in a good or bad way. Often used by skaters or surfers.
gnarley events: skateboarding competition (good way).
hurricane devestates town (bad way).
Family takes week vacation in cabo san lucas. (good way)
Gang activity ravels neighborhood. (Bad way)
by y.j. August 03, 2007
6 16