adjective sul·len \ˈsə-lən\

—used to describe an angry or unhappy person who does not want to talk, smile, etc.

: gray and dark

Full Definition of SULLEN

a :  gloomily or resentfully silent or repressed <a sullen crowd>
b :  suggesting a sullen state :  lowering <a sullen countenance>
:  dull or somber in sound or color
:  dismal, gloomy <a sullen morning>
:  moving sluggishly <a sullen river>
sul·len·ly adverb
sul·len·ness \ˈsə-lə(n)-nəs\ noun

Examples of SULLEN

  1. Economy got you down? Provocateur Ehrenreich … says: Don't try cheering yourself up. … Her sharp, funny critique finds that sunny types don't necessarily live longer or better than grumps. Besides, can you really get rid of all negativity in your life? It is not so easy, she notes, to abandon the whiny toddler or the sullen teenager. —Richard Eisenberg, People, 26 Oct. 2009

Origin of SULLEN

Middle English solein solitary, from Anglo-French sulein, solain, perhaps from sol, soul single, sole + -ain after Old French soltain solitary, private, from Late Latin solitaneus, ultimately from Latin solus alone
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of SULLEN

sullen, glum, morose, surly, sulky, crabbed, saturnine, gloomy mean showing a forbidding or disagreeable mood. sullen implies a silent ill humor and a refusal to be sociable <remained sullen amid the festivities>. glum suggests a silent dispiritedness <a glum candidate left to ponder a stunning defeat>. morose adds to glum an element of bitterness or misanthropy <morose job seekers who are inured to rejection>. surly implies gruffness and sullenness of speech or manner <a typical surly teenager>. sulky suggests childish resentment expressed in peevish sullenness <grew sulky after every spat>. crabbed applies to a forbidding morose harshness of manner <the school's notoriously crabbed headmaster>. saturnine describes a heavy forbidding aspect or suggests a bitter disposition <a saturnine cynic always finding fault>. gloomy implies a depression in mood making for seeming sullenness or glumness <a gloomy mood ushered in by bad news>.

Rhymes with SULLEN

SULLEN Defined for Kids


adjective sul·len \ˈsə-lən\

Definition of SULLEN for Kids

:  not sociable :  sulky <Laura tried to cheer him up … but he only grew more sullen. — Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie>
:  gloomy 1, dreary <a sullen sky>
sul·len·ly adverb


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