Simple Definition of sully
: to damage or ruin the good quality of (something)
Full Definition of sully
: to make soiled or tarnished : defile
Examples of sully in a sentence
<people that sully our state parks with their trash>
<a once-gleaming marble interior sullied by decades of exposure to cigarette smoke>
Did You Know?
The spelling of sully has shifted several times since it was sylian in Old-English, but its meaning has remained essentially the same: "to soil." If you're looking for other words that mean "to soil," you can try out befoul, besmirch, blacken, foul, grime, stain, or simply dirty. You might wonder if the English word sullen (meaning "gloomy or morose") is a relative of sully, and the answer is no. Sullen traces back by way of Anglo- and Old French to Latin solus, meaning "alone."
Origin of sully
Middle English *sullien, probably alteration (influenced by Anglo-French suillier, soiller to soil) of sulen to soil, from Old English sylian
First Known Use: 15th century
First Known Use of sully
Definition of Sully
Thomas 1783–1872 Am. (Eng.-born) painter
Seen and Heard
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