sullen

adjective
sul·​len | \ ˈsə-lən How to pronounce sullen (audio) \

Definition of sullen

1a : gloomily or resentfully silent or repressed a sullen crowd
b : suggesting a sullen state : lowering a sullen countenance
2 : dull or somber in sound or color
3 : dismal, gloomy a sullen morning
4 : moving sluggishly a sullen river

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Other Words from sullen

sullenly adverb
sullenness \ ˈsə-​lə(n)-​nəs How to pronounce sullen (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sullen

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 sullen in a Sentence

Economy got you down? Provocateur Ehrenreich … says: Don't try cheering yourself up.  … Her sharp, funny critique finds that sunny types don't necessarily live longer or better than grumps. Besides, can you really get rid of all negativity in your life? "It is not so easy," she notes, "to abandon the whiny toddler or the sullen teenager." — Richard Eisenberg, People, 26 Oct. 2009 The skies grew sullen and the air chillier, but it wasn't until the third day that the snow came. — Bill Bryson, A Walk In The Woods, 1999 Despite angry alumni calls and sullen students protests—including the cancellation of all fraternity parties at the school's annual Winter Carnival—the faculty unanimously voted in favor of the college's goal to make fraternities and sororities substantially coed, along with developing new social alternatives for its 4,300 undergraduates. — Anita Hamilton, Time, 1 Mar. 1999 sullen skies that matched our mood on the day of the funeral sullen and bored at his in-laws' house, he couldn't wait for the holidays to end
Recent Examples on the Web Asked about the benefits from hormone treatments, Ladinsky said patients who were sullen and withdrawn become more engaged. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, 5 May 2022 Dressing for the office can be a drab, sullen affair—especially after getting a taste of the work-from-home (and in your sweats) life. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Apr. 2022 The work can seem to invoke the cascading fatalities of the Covid pandemic and, by chance, the remorseless current carnage in Ukraine, whereby the destruction of so many people occasions news headlines as sullen as those stones. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 4 Apr. 2022 Longitudinal research suggests that careless, sullen teenagers can transform into gregarious seniors who are sticklers for the rules. Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, 10 Feb. 2022 Donovan Mitchell wasn’t sullen or moody or distraught or despondent. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Apr. 2022 My boyfriend, Gates, was sullen in the other room, staring at a screen of thermal pants. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, 11 Feb. 2022 The descent could have been a sullen bulwark of steel and cement. Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2022 Her teenage daughter Sara (Laura Galán) is sullen and alone. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sullen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sullen

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sullen

Middle English solein solitary, from Anglo-French sulein, solain, perhaps from sol, soul single, sole + -ain after Old French soltain solitary, private, from Late Latin solitaneus, ultimately from Latin solus alone

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Time Traveler for sullen

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The first known use of sullen was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near sullen

Sullana

sullen

sullens

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sullen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sullen. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for sullen

sullen

adjective
sul·​len | \ ˈsə-lən How to pronounce sullen (audio) \

Kids Definition of sullen

1 : not sociable : sulky Laura tried to cheer him up … but he only grew more sullen.— Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
2 : gloomy sense 1, dreary a sullen sky

Other Words from sullen

sullenly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on sullen

Nglish: Translation of sullen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sullen for Arabic Speakers

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