Open main menu

Wiktionary β




From Middle English solein, from Anglo-Norman soleyn (alone), from sole (single, sole, alone), from Latin sōlus (by oneself alone). The change in meaning from "single" to morose occurred in Middle English.



sullen (comparative sullener, superlative sullenest)

  1. Having a brooding ill temper; sulky.
    • Prior
      And sullen I forsook the imperfect feast.
  2. Gloomy; dismal; foreboding.
    • 1593, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, IV. v. 88:
      Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change;
    • 1671, John Milton, Paradise Regained, Book 1, line 500:
      He added not; and Satan bowing low His gray dissimulation, disappear'd Into thin Air diffus'd: for now began Night with her sullen wing to double-shade The Desert; Fowls in thir clay nests were couch't; And now wild Beasts came forth the woods to roam.
  3. Sluggish; slow.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      The larger stream was placid, and even sullen, in its course.
  4. (obsolete) Lonely; solitary; desolate.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wyclif Bible (Job iii. 14) to this entry?)
  5. (obsolete) Mischievous; malignant; unpropitious.
    • Dryden
      Such sullen planets at my birth did shine.
  6. (obsolete) Obstinate; intractable.
    • Tillotson
      Things are as sullen as we are.





sullen (plural sullens)

  1. (obsolete) One who is solitary, or lives alone; a hermit.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Piers Plowman to this entry?)
  2. Sullen feelings or manners; sulks; moroseness.
    to have the sullens

Middle DutchEdit


From Old Dutch skulan, sulan, from Proto-Germanic *skulaną.



  1. (auxiliary) must, to have to
  2. (auxiliary, negated) may, be allowed to
  3. (auxiliary) will, shall, be going to (future tense)
  4. (auxiliary, in the past tense) to be about to (inchoative)
  5. (modal auxiliary) indicates a possible or hypothetical situation
  6. (modal auxiliary) indicates information garnered from a third party that may or may not be reliable


This verb needs an inflection-table template.

Alternative formsEdit


Further readingEdit

  • sullen”, in Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek, 2000
  • sullen”, in Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, 1929

Northern SamiEdit