adjective Etymology: 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 Date: 14th century 1. a. 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
sullenly adverbsullenness noun Synonyms: 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

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sullen — Sul len, a. [OE. solein, solain, lonely, sullen; through Old French fr. (assumed) LL. solanus solitary, fr. L. solus alone. See {Sole}, a.] 1. Lonely; solitary; desolate. [Obs.] Wyclif (Job iii. 14). [1913 Webster] 2. Gloomy; dismal; foreboding.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sullen — may refer to:* Sullens Swiss municipalityMusic* A Sullen Sky song * Sullen band * Sullen Girl song * Sullen Soul song * Slumber of Sullen Eyes album/song * The Sullen Sulcus album …   Wikipedia

  • sullen — sullen, *glum, morose, surly, sulky, crabbed, saturnine, dour, gloomy can mean governed by or showing, especially in one s aspect, a forbidding or disagreeable mood or disposition. One is sullen who is, often by disposition, gloomy, silent, and… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Sullen — Sul len, n. 1. One who is solitary, or lives alone; a hermit. [Obs.] Piers Plowman. [1913 Webster] 2. pl. Sullen feelings or manners; sulks; moroseness; as, to have the sullens. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sullen — Sul len, v. t. To make sullen or sluggish. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Sullens the whole body with . . . laziness. Feltham. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sullen — [sul′ən] adj. [ME solein, alone, solitary < VL * solanus, alone < L solus, alone, SOLE2] 1. showing resentment and ill humor by morose, unsociable withdrawal 2. gloomy; dismal; sad; depressing 3. somber; dull [sullen colors] 4. slow moving; …   English World dictionary

  • sullen — index despondent, resentful, restive Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • sullen — 1570s, alteration of M.E. soleyn unique, singular, from Anglo Fr. *solein, formed on the pattern of O.Fr. soltain, from O.Fr. soul single (see SOLE (Cf. sole) (2)). The sense shift in M.E. from solitary to morose occurred late 14c …   Etymology dictionary

  • sullen — [adj] brooding, upset bad tempered, cheerless, churlish, crabbed*, crabby*, cross, cynical, dismal, dour, dull, fretful, frowning, gloomy, glowering, glum, gruff, grumpy*, heavy, hostile, ill humored, inert, irritable, malevolent, malicious,… …   New thesaurus

  • sullen — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ bad tempered and sulky. DERIVATIVES sullenly adverb sullenness noun. ORIGIN originally in the senses «averse to company» and «unusual»: from Old French sulein, from sol sole …   English terms dictionary

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