sully

verb
sul·​ly | \ ˈsə-lē How to pronounce sully (audio) \
sullied; sullying

Definition of sully

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

: to make soiled or tarnished : defile

sully

noun
plural sullies

Definition of sully (Entry 2 of 4)

archaic
: soil, stain

Sully

biographical name (1)
Sul·​ly | \ ˈsə-lē How to pronounce Sully (audio) , (ˌ)sə-ˈlē, sᵫ-ˈlē\

Definition of Sully (Entry 3 of 4)

Duc de 1560–1641 Maximilien de Béthune Baron de Rosny \ də-​rō-​ˈnē How to pronounce də-rō-ˈnē (audio)\ French statesman

Sully

biographical name (2)
Sul·​ly | \ ˈsə-lē How to pronounce Sully (audio) \

Definition of Sully (Entry 4 of 4)

Thomas 1783–1872 American (English-born) painter

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Synonyms & Antonyms for sully

Synonyms: Verb

befoul, begrime, bemire, besmirch, blacken, daub, dirty, distain [archaic], foul, gaum [dialect], grime, mire, muck, muddy, smirch, smudge, soil, stain

Antonyms: Verb

clean, cleanse

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Did You Know?

Verb

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."

Examples of sully in a Sentence

Verb

people that sully our state parks with their trash a once-gleaming marble interior sullied by decades of exposure to cigarette smoke

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Unfortunately, this is one of those sequels that is best forgotten so as not to sully the original film. Allen Kim, CNN, "After nearly 17 years, 'Bad Boys II' is getting a sequel. That wait is nothing compared to these movie sequels," 7 Sep. 2019 So Trump’s disdain for checks and balances and traditional democratic norms has sullied America’s global reputation and the respect that adversaries pay. Trudy Rubin, The Mercury News, "Rubin: Joe Biden has advanced the key foreign-policy issue of 2020," 16 July 2019 But documents Litwin had to include in his application are sullied by his past. Los Angeles Times, oregonlive.com, "He went to jail for impersonating a doctor; then, he went to medical school," 24 Aug. 2019 Doing that would avenge the loss that sullied its record of reaching the semifinals of every major tournament and maintain momentum in what the U.S. hopes will be a seven-game run to the title. Rachel Bachman, WSJ, "U.S. Women’s Soccer Faces Grudge Matchup With Sweden," 20 June 2019 The temple that honors our noblest president will be sullied by our basest. Eugene Robinson, The Mercury News, "Robinson: Trump’s making DC’s 4th of July a rally to honor himself," 18 June 2019 But documents Litwin had to include in his application are sullied by his past. Los Angeles Times, oregonlive.com, "He went to jail for impersonating a doctor; then, he went to medical school," 24 Aug. 2019 The joyous occasion was sullied by a subsequent Chick-fil-A subtweet, which Popeyes was quick to respond to. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Brands are beefing about who has the best chicken sandwich, and it's a mess," 20 Aug. 2019 But documents Litwin had to include in his application are sullied by his past. Soumya Karlamanglastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "He went to jail as a fake doctor. Now he’s a real one: The saga of Adam Litwin, MD," 7 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sully.' 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 sully

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sully

Verb

Middle English *sullien, probably alteration (influenced by Anglo-French suillier, soiller to soil) of sulen to soil, from Old English sylian

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Dictionary Entries near sully

sullens

Sullivan

sullow

sully

Sully

Sully Prudhomme

sulph-

Statistics for sully

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sully

The first known use of sully was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for sully

sully

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sully

formal : to damage or ruin the good quality of (something)

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More from Merriam-Webster on sully

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sully

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sully

Spanish Central: Translation of sully

Nglish: Translation of sully for Spanish Speakers

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