From Middle English solein, from Anglo-Norman soleyn (“alone”), from Old French sole (“single, sole, alone”), from Latin sōlus (“by oneself alone”). The change in meaning from "single" to morose occurred in Middle English.
- Having a brooding ill temper; sulky.
- 1709, Matthew Prior, Pleasure:
- And sullen I forsook the imperfect feast.
- 2007, Steven Wilson, "Normal", Porcupine Tree, Nil Recurring.
- Sullen and bored the kids stay / And in this way wish away each day
- Gloomy; dismal; foreboding.
- a sullen atmosphere
- c. 1591–1595 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene v], line 88:
- Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change;
- 1671, John Milton, “The First Book”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: […] J. M[acock] for John Starkey […], →OCLC, page 27, lines 497–502:
- 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.
- Sluggish; slow.
- (obsolete) Lonely; solitary; desolate.
- (obsolete) Mischievous; malignant; unpropitious.
- (obsolete) Obstinate; intractable.
(in a bad mood):
sullen (plural sullens)
- (obsolete) One who is solitary, or lives alone; a hermit.
- (in the plural) Sullen feelings or manners; sulks; moroseness.
- 1595 December 9 (first known performance), William Shakespeare, “The life and death of King Richard the Second”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act 2, scene 1], line 139:
- And let them die that age and sullens have;
- 1748, [Samuel Richardson], chapter 7, in Clarissa. Or, The History of a Young Lady: […], volume I, London: […] S[amuel] Richardson; […], →OCLC:
- [M]y brother […] charged my desire of being excused coming down to sullens, because a certain person had been spoken against, upon whom, as he supposed, my fancy ran.
- (auxiliary) must, to have to
- (auxiliary, negated) may, be allowed to
- (auxiliary) will, shall, be going to (future tense)
- (auxiliary, in the past tense) to be about to (inchoative)
- (modal auxiliary) indicates a possible or hypothetical situation
- (modal auxiliary) indicates information garnered from a third party that may or may not be reliable
This verb needs an inflection-table template.
- Dutch: zullen
- Limburgish: zölle, zólle
- “sullen”, in Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek, 2000
- Verwijs, E.; Verdam, J. (1885–1929), “sullen”, in Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, →ISBN
- Alternative form of