See also: Sully

English edit

Etymology edit

A child whose face and hand have been sullied after playing with mud

From Middle English sulen, sulien (to become dirty; to defile, pollute, taint), from Old English sylian (to soil, pollute; to sully),[1] from Proto-West Germanic *sulwōn, *sulwijan (to make dirty; to sully), from Proto-Indo-European *sūl- (thick liquid, muck), perhaps conflated partially with Old French souillier (to soil) (modern French souiller) from the same Germanic source. The word is cognate with Danish søle (to sully), West Flemish seulewen (to sully) (Middle Dutch soluwen (to sully)), German sühlen (to sully), Old Saxon sulian (to sully), Swedish söla (to sully). Also compare Middle English sulpen (to defile, pollute),[2] Old English solian (to soil, become defiled, make or become foul), and see more at soil.

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

sully (third-person singular simple present sullies, present participle sullying, simple past and past participle sullied)

  1. (transitive) To soil or stain; to dirty.
    Synonym: (obsolete) sowl
    He did not wish to sully his hands with gardening.
  2. (transitive) To corrupt or damage.
    She tried to sully her rival’s reputation with a suggestive comment.
  3. (intransitive, ergative) To become soiled or tarnished.
    • 1730, Francis Bacon, “The Lord Bacon’s Questions, with Dr. Meverel’s Solutions, Concerning the Compounding, Incorporating, or Union of Metals or Minerals; which Subject is the First Letter of His Lordship’s Alphabet”, in The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St Alban, and Lord High Chancellor of England, volume III, London: J. and J. Knapton [et al.], →OCLC, page 215:
      [G]old bears the fire, which ſilver doth not: but that is an excellency in nature, but it is nothing at all in uſe; for any dignity in uſe I know none, but that ſilvering will ſully and canker more than gilding; []

Alternative forms edit

Coordinate terms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

sully (plural sullies)

  1. (rare, obsolete) A blemish.

References edit

  1. ^ sulen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 8 January 2018.
  2. ^ sulpen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 8 January 2018.