: to make soiled or tarnished : defile
Did You Know?
The spelling of today's word 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."
The mayor worried that the latest scandal had hopelessly sullied his good name.
"The bank's reputation was sullied when its former chairman … was caught on tape in November discussing an alleged drug purchase." - From an article by Max Colchester in the Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2014
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