- to soil, stain, or tarnish.
- to mar the purity or luster of; defile: to sully a reputation.
- to become sullied, soiled, or tarnished.
- Obsolete. a stain; soil.
Origin of sully
First recorded in 1585–95; origin uncertain
SynonymsSee more synonyms for sully on Thesaurus.com
1. taint, blemish, contaminate. 2. dirty, disgrace, dishonor.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for sullies
Their shifts and their sullies throughout the blood did stain.The Lay of the Cid
R. Selden Rose
Sometimes these passions plunge us into a turbulent joy, and he who gives way to such, sullies the air with brutish laughter.Thais
He resisted the most powerful temptations, and there is no recorded act which sullies his memory.Beacon Lights of History, Volume II
This act, a bar-sinister in the biography of Gorges, sullies his escutcheon at the outset.Nooks and Corners of the New England Coast
Samuel Adams Drake
That it is which sullies the honor of your name much more than the storm has injured your cloak!The Bath Keepers, v.1 (Novels of Paul de Kock Volume VII)
Charles Paul de Kock
- to stain or tarnish (a reputation, etc) or (of a reputation) to become stained or tarnished
- a stain
- the act of sullying
C16: probably from French souiller to soil
- 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
Word Origin and History for sullies
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