[ suhl-uhn ]
See synonyms for: sullensullenness on

  1. showing irritation or ill humor by a gloomy silence or reserve.

  2. persistently and silently ill-humored; morose.

  1. indicative of gloomy ill humor.

  2. gloomy or dismal, as weather or a sound.

  3. sluggish, as a stream.

  4. Obsolete. malignant, as planets or influences.

Origin of sullen

First recorded in 1565–75; earlier sollen, solain, from Middle English solein(e), solain “sole, solitary, sullen,” possibly from Vulgar Latin sōlānus (unattested), from Latin sōlus “alone, only, single”

synonym study For sullen

1. See cross. 1, 2. See glum.

Other words for sullen

Opposites for sullen

Other words from sullen

  • sul·len·ly, adverb
  • sul·len·ness, noun
  • un·sul·len, adjective

Words Nearby sullen Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sullen in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sullen


/ (ˈsʌlən) /

  1. unwilling to talk or be sociable; sulky; morose

  2. sombre; gloomy: a sullen day

  1. literary sluggish; slow: a sullen stream

  2. obsolete threatening

  1. (plural) archaic a sullen mood

Origin of sullen

C16: perhaps from Anglo-French solain (unattested), ultimately related to Latin sōlus alone

Derived forms of sullen

  • sullenly, adverb
  • sullenness, noun

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