- showing irritation or ill humor by a gloomy silence or reserve.
- persistently and silently ill-humored; morose.
- indicative of gloomy ill humor.
- gloomy or dismal, as weather or a sound.
- sluggish, as a stream.
- Obsolete. malignant, as planets or influences.
Origin of sullen
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sullen
Spring is a time of new beginnings, but in the years that followed, I became inward and sullen as those memories took me under.Memorial Days After Mourning Has Passed
May 25, 2014
When the candidate was sullen and grumpy—which was often—he could read his mood and adjust the bubble accordingly.No Drama Obama’s Dramatic 2012 Reelection Campaign
September 12, 2013
Strung out on a punishing regimen of diet pills, the once genial young man becomes a sullen, self-pitying wreck.Richard Porton on Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Behind the Candelabra’
May 23, 2013
Kristen Stewart was cast as Marylou at 17, before she played fair-skinned and often sullen Bella Swan in The Twilight series.‘On the Road’: Differences Between Jack Kerouac’s Novel and This Year’s Film
December 21, 2012
Following Kathy's death, Enos would continue to play Kathy's sullen twin, Jodean, in the fourth season of Big Love.Big Love's 12 Most Memorable Moments
March 19, 2011
After the first outburst a sullen anger took possession of the race-goers.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
But the sullen boy only muttered that she was wise a little too late.The Paradise of Children
Are you mistress of the petulant, the peevish, and the sullen tone?Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)
"Pray do not be foolish, Proserpina," said he, in rather a sullen tone.Tanglewood Tales
Again there was the obvious double meaning in his sullen tone.In the Valley
- unwilling to talk or be sociable; sulky; morose
- sombre; gloomya sullen day
- literary sluggish; slowa sullen stream
- obsolete threatening
- (plural) archaic a sullen mood
Word Origin and History for sullen
1570s, alteration of Middle English soleyn "unique, singular," from Anglo-French *solein, formed on the pattern of Old French soltain, from Old French soul "single" (see sole (n.2)). The sense shift in Middle English from "solitary" to "morose" occurred late 14c.