Synonyms & Antonyms of sullen

2 given to or displaying a resentful silence and often irritability
  • sullen and bored at his in-laws' house, he couldn't wait for the holidays to end

Synonyms for sullen

Words Related to sullen

Phrases Synonymous with sullen

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Frequently Asked Questions About sullen

How is the word sullen different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of sullen are crabbed, gloomy, glum, morose, saturnine, sulky, and surly. While all these words mean "showing a forbidding or disagreeable mood," sullen implies a silent ill humor and a refusal to be sociable.

remained sullen amid the festivities

In what contexts can crabbed take the place of sullen?

While the synonyms crabbed and sullen are close in meaning, crabbed applies to a forbidding morose harshness of manner.

the school's notoriously crabbed headmaster

When would gloomy be a good substitute for sullen?

Although the words gloomy and sullen have much in common, gloomy implies a depression in mood making for seeming sullenness or glumness.

a gloomy mood ushered in by bad news

When could glum be used to replace sullen?

In some situations, the words glum and sullen are roughly equivalent. However, glum suggests a silent dispiritedness.

a glum candidate left to ponder a stunning defeat

How do morose and glum relate to one another, in the sense of sullen?

Morose adds to glum an element of bitterness or misanthropy.

morose job seekers who are inured to rejection

When might saturnine be a better fit than sullen?

The meanings of saturnine and sullen largely overlap; however, saturnine describes a heavy forbidding aspect or suggests a bitter disposition.

a saturnine cynic always finding fault

When is it sensible to use sulky instead of sullen?

The synonyms sulky and sullen are sometimes interchangeable, but sulky suggests childish resentment expressed in peevish sullenness.

grew sulky after every spat

When can surly be used instead of sullen?

While in some cases nearly identical to sullen, surly implies gruffness and sullenness of speech or manner.

a typical surly teenager

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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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Cite this Entry

“Sullen.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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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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