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 sullen (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 In a deposition, Richard Sackler’s daughter Marianna is sullen and uncommunicative. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 20 Sep. 2021 Others are full of sullen rage at the injustice of their bereavement. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 10 Sep. 2021 The girls — 10-year-old Sara and Safa, 7 — weren’t talking much, and Aria was sullen. Washington Post, 2 Sep. 2021 Even Huppert’s older, sullen Maud wears a red pantsuit and lipstick that matches Claire’s red waitress uniform — the film’s symbolic colors and vibrant sensuality denote more than a sense of fashion. Armond White, National Review, 27 Aug. 2021 Zoya is dealing with the anniversary by being understandably sullen. Jodi Walker, EW.com, 29 July 2021 As research volunteers, cats tend to be more sullen and reserved. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 28 July 2021 His laconic kindness to the younger man is mirrored by Rosa’s tenderness toward her sometimes sullen, often immature sister. Teju Cole, The New Yorker, 10 Aug. 2021 Despite my dream of returning to the tradition of strolling the Target and Walmart aisles, with nostalgia and irritation swelling in my chest with my excited, eager and occasionally sullen kids in tow, for us, that's not happening this year. Michelle Maltais, USA TODAY, 4 Aug. 2021

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near sullen

Sullana

sullen

sullens

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sullen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sullen. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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 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

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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