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[suhl-ee] /ˈsʌl i/
verb (used with object), sullied, sullying.
to soil, stain, or tarnish.
to mar the purity or luster of; defile:
to sully a reputation.
verb (used without object), sullied, sullying.
to become sullied, soiled, or tarnished.
noun, plural sullies.
Obsolete. a stain; soil.
Origin of sully
First recorded in 1585-95; origin uncertain
Related forms
sulliable, adjective
unsulliable, adjective
unsullied, adjective
1. taint, blemish, contaminate. 2. dirty, disgrace, dishonor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sullied
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No taint of vice or dissipation had ever sullied the brightness of his pleasant life.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • Was it well that a deity should be sullied by a mortal's wound?

  • Even the memory of his grand passion was now corrupted, sullied, debased.

    The Child of Pleasure Gabriele D'Annunzio
  • The child has been concealed, that she might not be sullied by the looks of such creatures as you.

    The Regent's Daughter Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
  • Never let your reputation in this respect be sullied by so much as a breath.

    The Congo Rovers Harry Collingwood
  • She would not allow her mind to be sullied by such a suspicion.

    The Beth Book

    Sarah Grand
  • But never yet had “baffled” sullied her wells of pure undefiled English.

    Miss Mapp Edward Frederic Benson
British Dictionary definitions for sullied


verb -lies, -lying, -lied
to stain or tarnish (a reputation, etc) or (of a reputation) to become stained or tarnished
noun (pl) -lies
a stain
the act of sullying
Derived Forms
sulliable, adjective
Word Origin
C16: probably from French souiller to soil


/ˈsʌlɪ; French sylli/
Maximilien de Béthune (maksimiljɛ̃ də betyn), Duc de Sully. 1559–1641, French statesman; minister of Henry IV. He helped restore the finances of France after the Wars of Religion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sullied



1570s (implied in sulliedness), probably from Middle French souiller, from Old French souillier "make dirty" (see soil (v.)). Related: Sullied; sullying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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