Definition of sullen in US English:

sullen

adjective

  • 1Bad-tempered and sulky; gloomy.

    ‘a sullen pout’
    • ‘Outside the fine rain had abated, leaving it its wake a sullen spring sky of pencil grey.’
    • ‘She's childish, sullen, moody and volatile, prone to outbursts of jealousy, weeping, rage and laughter.’
    • ‘He leans back and crosses his hands over his chest, a sullen expression on his lean, sculpted face.’
    • ‘At best you will achieve a sullen and resentful compliance.’
    • ‘If I do that, it will make him sullen and resentful and unmotivated to control his desire to hit when he is angry.’
    • ‘It squats at the bottom of the pail like a sullen garden toad, refusing to budge.’
    • ‘There's a sullen, and increasingly angry mood on the issue.’
    • ‘Those who should ask questions either do not bother to show up, knowing they will not be called, or sit in sullen silence.’
    • ‘The Dutch of the 19th century were portrayed as gloomy and sullen preachers and educators.’
    • ‘Anthony Hopkins goes from sullen silence to wordy sermonising as an unhinged anthropologist in this heavy-handed drama.’
    • ‘Boscaini manages to say this entirely convincingly under a sullen, grey sky in Dublin.’
    • ‘After she declined a proposal to have dinner with him he returned to his more sullen and sulky ways.’
    • ‘Bolton itself also belied any clichéd image of drab northern towns under sullen skies.’
    • ‘I shrink into myself and become sullen and uncommunicative.’
    • ‘Or do you picture them caked in mud, bodies swarming with lice, marching in sullen silence?’
    • ‘A couple of tourists are sitting in a brasserie on the Boulevard-St-Germain and their waiter is sullen, slow and brings the wrong order.’
    • ‘But prepare for the inevitable crash of emotions as the money is spent and the glow fades and you end up gloomy and sullen.’
    • ‘Soon enough, though, I'd had enough of walking, the sky grew more and more sullen, and the temperature dropped.’
    • ‘This hope was dashed when she walked into the dining room to find him still sullen and sulky.’
    • ‘Mounting the pulpit they appealed for calm and secured a sullen silence.’
    surly, sulky, pouting, sour, morose, resentful, glum, moody, gloomy, joyless, frowning, glowering, grumpy, touchy, peevish, indignant, embittered
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of the sky) full of dark clouds.
      ‘a sullen sunless sky’

noun

the sullens
archaic
  • A sulky or depressed mood.

    • ‘When I mentioned this, he lapsed back into the sullens.’
    • ‘He led her into a respectable inn and ordered a dinner to charm her out of the sullens.’

Origin

Middle English (in the senses ‘solitary, averse to company’, and ‘unusual’): from Anglo-Norman French sulein, from sol ‘sole’.

Pronunciation

sullen

/ˈsələn//ˈsələn/