sullen

adjective
sul·len | \ˈsə-lən \

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 \ 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

Camille’s wounded psyche isn’t an easy place to be, and Adams’s quiet, sullen presence somehow conveys Camille’s frantic unease both in Wind Gap and in her own body. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Twisted, Enthralling Rot of Sharp Objects," 7 July 2018 At a bar in the upscale Kutuzovskiy neighborhood in western Moscow, groups of sullen men watched the first half of the game. Anatoly Kurmanaev, WSJ, "Moscow Celebrates After Surprise World Cup Win," 1 July 2018 Lately, a wave of stylishly sullen young artists, many in rap, has excavated the painfully unhip, angsty subcultures of the 1990s and 2000s. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Linkin Park Gave to Pop Music," 25 June 2018 Some of his accusers in court let out audible sighs of relief — Jeremy Roebuck (@jeremyrroebuck) April 26, 2018 Cosby looking down at the defense table, appearing sullen. Michael Boren, Philly.com, "Bill Cosby verdict reaction: 'Money can't buy you freedom'," 26 Apr. 2018 The sullen, charcoal sky opened with a vengeance Saturday afternoon at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, signaling several University of Miami baseball players to race through the torrents of rain and unfurl a giant, white tarp. Susan Miller Degnan, miamiherald, "UM baseball coach Jim Morris' career at home ends in a rainout at Mark Light Field | Miami Herald," 19 May 2018 The converse is also true: Just picture a sullen teenager whose slouchy posture instantly conveys a sense of apathy. Barbara Brody, Health.com, "The Surprisingly Easy Move That Can Make You Happier and Boost Your Energy Instantly," 7 May 2018 As the jury decision was announced, Cosby offered little visible reaction, but gazed down at the defense table, looking sullen; his spokesman leaned forward, his head in his hands. Author: Jeremy Roebuck, Laura Mccrystal, Anchorage Daily News, "Comedian Bill Cosby convicted of sexual assault in retrial," 26 Apr. 2018 Both boys were silent and sullen and refused to engage with the rest of the family for the rest of the week. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, "Grandparents erupt over pot paraphernalia," 25 Apr. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near sullen

Sulla

sullage

Sullana

sullen

sullens

Sullivan

sullow

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Time Traveler for sullen

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

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More Definitions for sullen

sullen

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of sullen

—used to describe an angry or unhappy person who does not want to talk, smile, etc.

: gray and dark

sullen

adjective
sul·len | \ˈsə-lən \

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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