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 sullenness (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
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Recent Examples on the Web Two middle-aged women sat down in front of me, quiet and sullen. Shanna Farrell, SFChronicle.com, "In the age of Trump and #MeToo, the bartender’s job gets more complicated," 18 Oct. 2019 On visits, the usually happy Aliyah was sullen and teary. Karina Bland, azcentral, "Behind the scenes with Karina Bland: A happy ending to this story, but not one I expected," 1 Jan. 2020 But his demeanor seemed to change following a recent home leave, several students said, with Shamrani becoming more withdrawn and often appearing sullen, officials familiar with the matter said. Anchorage Daily News, "Florida gunman’s behavior changed after trip to native Saudi Arabia, friends say," 10 Dec. 2019 Nothing convincingly explains the strange chemistry, the alchemy, that has kept the heart of a sullen, violent, tormented criminal beating for so long in a gentle mother's chest. oregonlive, "The tragic, redemptive journey of one human heart," 5 Oct. 2019 For the rest of the week, Jerome remained sullen, only frowning at Tiny or grumbling her way. Rion Amilcar Scott, The New Yorker, "Shape-ups at Delilah’s," 30 Sep. 2019 But setting aside the stark differences in linguistic approach to storytelling, these two skinny snacks offer up distinctly different interpretations of the iconic English monarch — one sullen and introspective, the other more brash and showy. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Timothée Chalamet or Tom Hiddleston? Here’s which Henry V is the true king of our hearts (opinion)," 4 Nov. 2019 Hank was a sullen but heroic octopus in the kids’ movie Finding Dory. Tik Root, Time, "Inside the Race to Build the World's First Commercial Octopus Farm," 21 Aug. 2019 Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies, taking over from Matt Smith), is shifting from sullen resentment to grumpy middle age. James Poniewozik, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Crown’ and the Burdens of a No-Drama Queen," 14 Nov. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sullen

Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sullen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sullen. Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for sullen

sullen

adjective
How to pronounce sullen (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sullen

used to describe an angry or unhappy person who does not want to talk, smile, etc.
literary : gray and dark

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sullen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sullen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sullen

Spanish Central: Translation of sullen

Nglish: Translation of sullen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sullen for Arabic Speakers

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