verb (used without object)

to remain silent or hold oneself aloof in a sullen, ill-humored, or offended mood: Promise me that you won't sulk if I want to leave the party early.


a state or fit of sulking.
sulks, ill-humor shown by sulking: to be in the sulks.
Also sulk·er. a person who sulks.

Origin of sulk

First recorded in 1775–85; back formation from sulky
Related formsout·sulk, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for sulks

mope, brood, gloom, lower, grouse, glower, gripe, moon, grump, scowl, frown

Examples from the Web for sulks

Contemporary Examples of sulks

Historical Examples of sulks

  • He sulks and tells silly lies when you come to really know him.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

  • What difference would it make whether in the sulks or out of them?

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • Susie and Inez quarreled over the dishes and had the sulks all day.

    Tabitha's Vacation

    Ruth Alberta Brown

  • She claimed a foul and went off in a fit of sulks, of course.

    David and the Phoenix

    Edward Ormondroyd

  • Achilles, the man of action, without honour or imagination, sulks.

    William Shakespeare

    John Masefield

British Dictionary definitions for sulks



(intr) to be silent and resentful because of a wrong done to one, esp in order to gain sympathy; brood sullenlythe child sulked in a corner after being slapped


(often plural) a state or mood of feeling resentful or sullenhe's in a sulk because he lost the game; he's got the sulks
Also: sulker a person who sulks

Word Origin for sulk

C18: perhaps a back formation from sulky 1
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

Word Origin and History for sulks



1781, back-formation of sulky (adj.). Related: Sulked; sulking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper