[ suhl-ee ]
See synonyms for sully on
verb (used with object),sul·lied, sul·ly·ing.
  1. to soil, stain, or tarnish.

  2. to mar the purity or luster of; defile: to sully a reputation.

verb (used without object),sul·lied, sul·ly·ing.
  1. to become sullied, soiled, or tarnished.

noun,plural sul·lies.
  1. Obsolete. a stain; soil.

Origin of sully

First recorded in 1585–95; origin uncertain

Other words for sully

Other words from sully

  • sul·li·a·ble, adjective
  • un·sul·li·a·ble, adjective

Words Nearby sully

Other definitions for Sully (2 of 2)

[ suhl-ee; for 1 also French sy-lee ]

  1. Ma·xi·mi·lien de Bé·thune [mak-see-mee-lyanduhbey-tyn], /mak si miˈlyɛ̃ də beɪˈtün/, Duc de, 1560–1641, French statesman.

  2. Thomas, 1783–1872, U.S. painter, born in England. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sully in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sully (1 of 2)


/ (ˈsʌlɪ) /

verb-lies, -lying or -lied
  1. to stain or tarnish (a reputation, etc) or (of a reputation) to become stained or tarnished

nounplural -lies
  1. a stain

  2. the act of sullying

Origin of sully

C16: probably from French souiller to soil

Derived forms of sully

  • sulliable, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Sully (2 of 2)


/ (ˈsʌlɪ, French sylli) /

  1. 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

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