1 of 2


sulkier; sulkiest
: sulking or given to spells of sulking
: relating to or indicating a sulk
a sulky expression
[sulky entry 2] : having wheels and usually a seat for the driver
a sulky plow
sulkily adverb
sulkiness noun


2 of 2


plural sulkies
: a light 2-wheeled vehicle (as for harness racing) having a seat for the driver only and usually no body
Choose the Right Synonym for sulky

sullen, glum, morose, surly, sulky, crabbed, saturnine, gloomy mean showing a forbidding or disagreeable mood.

sullen implies a silent ill humor and a refusal to be sociable.

remained sullen amid the festivities

glum suggests a silent dispiritedness.

a glum candidate left to ponder a stunning defeat

morose adds to glum an element of bitterness or misanthropy.

morose job seekers who are inured to rejection

surly implies gruffness and sullenness of speech or manner.

a typical surly teenager

sulky suggests childish resentment expressed in peevish sullenness.

grew sulky after every spat

crabbed applies to a forbidding morose harshness of manner.

the school's notoriously crabbed headmaster

saturnine describes a heavy forbidding aspect or suggests a bitter disposition.

a saturnine cynic always finding fault

gloomy implies a depression in mood making for seeming sullenness or glumness.

a gloomy mood ushered in by bad news

Examples of sulky in a Sentence

Adjective She is very sulky today. She's in a sulky mood.
Recent Examples on the Web
No sniggering jokes now about princely flings and sulky princesses and body doubles. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2024 The sulky postwar formation that Moyn depicts owes a great deal to Christian brooding on original sin, as well as to Sigmund Freud’s then increasingly popular conception of the self as impulsive and destructive. Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2023 Austin Butler’s version of Elvis is a sulky pretty boy with smokey-eye makeup, loud silk shirts, and lips the color and texture of bubblegum. Katie Rife, Vulture, 24 June 2022 Lestat wastes no time in breaking the guy's neck and offering him up for his sulky boyfriend, but in the end, Louis chooses a cat. Sara Netzley,, 17 Oct. 2022 In the late 1990s, Louis Easton was a sulky teen when his horticulturist father introduced him to plant care and merchandising. Jeanette Marantosstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2022 No new facts are necessary to demonstrate that Trump was a sulky, smooth-brained baby, prone to fits of pouty anger, enabled by a coterie of vile liars and violent stooges. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 2 July 2022 Both wrote famously about the Santa Anas — the former describing them as a driver of bar fights and murder, the latter as a cause of sulky maids and screaming peacocks. Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2022 Director Pablo Larraín, the Chilean cynic whose niche is sentimentalizing Western icons (Tony Manero, Jackie) uses Stewart’s sulky manner with precision. Armond White, National Review, 10 Nov. 2021
The first floor of the barn once housed farm equipment, grain bins and feeding troughs, as well as the remnants of an old sulky. Mary Jane Brewer, cleveland, 23 May 2022 Occasionally there would be an eruption of cheering, or sulky booing would break out. Doug MacCash | Staff Writer,, 3 Nov. 2020 The conversion from pulling a buggy to pulling a sulky resulted in the run of victories, all at Northfield, stretching from early June until late September. Bob Roberts, cleveland, 10 Oct. 2019 But when Hawthorne resumed racing June 13, Curtin wasn’t back in the sulky., 20 June 2019 Proven harness racing royalty will sit in the sulky behind Bully Pulpit. Bob Roberts,, 5 June 2019 Original race cars, vintage cycling gear, harness-racing sulkies, and other racing items will also be on display., 9 May 2018 Uruguay famously got sulky over the shortage of European teams at the first World Cup and refused to travel over for the 1934 tournament, and Argentina joined them four years later when FIFA decided to stage a second consecutive World Cup in Europe., 22 Mar. 2018 The term dates to 1945, when it was used by the military psychiatrist William Menninger to define the attitude of sulky, balky soldiers. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 22 Jan. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sulky.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



probably alteration of obsolete sulke sluggish


probably from sulky entry 1; from its having room for only one person

First Known Use


1744, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1756, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sulky was in 1744

Dictionary Entries Near sulky

Cite this Entry

“Sulky.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
sulkier; sulkiest
: acting or tending to act silently angry, upset, or irritable
sulkily adverb
sulkiness noun


2 of 2 noun
plural sulkies
: a light two-wheeled vehicle that is pulled by a horse and has a seat for the driver only and usually no body

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