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A couple sitting on a beach in Hollywood, Florida, USA, on a sultry day (sense 1)

From sulter (verb (obsolete), a variant of swelter) +‎ -y; compare sweltry.





sultry (comparative sultrier, superlative sultriest)

  1. (weather) Hot and humid. [from late 16th c.]
    Synonyms: close, muggy
    • 1623, Charles Butler, “Of the Swarming of Bees, and the Hiuing of Them”, in The Feminine Monarchie: Or The Historie of Bees. Shewing Their Admirable Nature, and Propertes, Their Generation, and Colonies, Their Gouernment, Loyaltie, Art, Industrie, Enemies, Warres, Magnanimitie, &c. Together with the Right Ordering of Them from Time to Time: And the Sweet Profit Arising thereof. Written out of Experience, London: Printed by Iohn Haviland for Roger Iackson, and are to be sold at his shop in Fleetstreet, ouer against the Conduit, →OCLC:
      Other ſignes of the Hiues fullneſſe and readineſſe to ſwarm are at the Hiue-doore, [] Fourthly, their firſt lying forth in foggy and ſultrie mornings & euenings, & going in again when the aire is cleere.
    • 1793 January, William Bartram, “Art. II. Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws. Containing an Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of Those Regions; together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians. Embellished with Copper Plates. By William Bartram. Re-printed from the Philadelphia Edition. 8vo. pp. 520. 7s. 6d. boards. Johnson. 1792.”, in The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, Enlarged, volume X, London: Printed for R[alph] Griffiths; and sold by T[homas] Becket, in Pall Mall, published 1794, →OCLC, page 17:
      On recollecting myself, I diſcovered that I had almoſt reached the entrance of the lagoon, and determined to venture in, if poſſible, to take a few fiſh, [] I ſoon caught more trout than I had preſent occaſion for, and the air was too hot and ſultry to admit of their being kept for many hours, even though ſalted or barbecued.
    • 1812, Lord Byron, “Canto II”, in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. A Romaunt, London: Printed for John Murray, []; William Blackwood, Edinburgh; and John Cumming, Dublin; by Thomas Davison, [], →OCLC, stanza XLIX, page 85:
      Here in the sultriest season let him rest, / Fresh is the green beneath those aged trees; / Here winds of gentlest wing will fan his breast, / From heaven itself he may inhale the breeze: []
    • 1832, Jedadiah Cleishbotham [pseudonym; Walter Scott], chapter XII, in Tales of My Landlord, Fourth and Last Series. [], volume II (Count Robert of Paris), Edinburgh: [] [Ballantyne and Company] for Robert Cadell; London: Whittaker and Co., →OCLC, page 305:
      The detachment of Tancred, fifty spears and their armed retinue, which amounted fully to five hundred men, after having taken a short and hasty refreshment, were in arms and mounted before the sultry hour of noon.
    • 1859 November 26 – 1860 August 25, [William] Wilkie Collins, “The Narrative of Walter Hartwright, of Clement’s Inn, London”, in The Woman in White. [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, [], published 1860, →OCLC, part I, section III, page 10, column 1:
      The heat had been painfully oppressive all day; and it was now a close and sultry night.
    • 1864 January 22, Board of Aldermen of New York City, “Summary of Seven Daily Observations of the Temperature, Moisture, Weight, Direction, and Condition of the Atmosphere, for the Year 1863”, in Annual Report of the City Inspector of the City of New York for the Year Ending December 31, 1863 (Document No. 7), New York, N.Y.: Edmund Jones & Co., printers to the Corporation, No. 26 John Street, →OCLC, page 154:
      The weather of the summer of 1863 was, if we include the above four months, not remarkable; but June and September had exceedingly fine weather, while July and August were very unhealthy, being warmer than usual and much damper—that is, sultry.
    • 1914 January, Zane Grey, “The Mountain Trail”, in The Light of Western Stars: A Romance, New York, N.Y., London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, →OCLC, page 225:
      The storm-center gathered slowly around the peaks; low rumble and bowl of thunder increased in frequence; slowly the light shaded as smoky clouds rolled up; the air grew sultrier, and the exasperating breeze puffed a few times and then failed.
    • 1931, Annie Besant, “Conquest and Tyranny”, in England, India, and Afghanistan: And the Story of Afghanistan or Why the Tory Government Gags the Indian Press: A Plea for the Weak against the Strong, 1st Indian edition, Aydar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, →OCLC, pages 26–27:
      The soldiers in charge of the English, puzzled apparently how to secure them, conceived the barbarous idea of diving the whole number into a cell which would have been overcrowded with ten captives during the sultry heat of a Bengal midsummer night. The hundred and forty-six unfortunate prisoners were crushed into the narrow space.
    • 2023 June 10, Phil McNulty, “Manchester City 1 - 0 Inter Milan”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      The Champions League has brought suffering to City and Guardiola - especially when they lost to Premier League rivals Chelsea in the 2021 final - but all the pain disappeared just before midnight on a sultry night in Istanbul.
  2. (weather) Very hot and dry; torrid.
  3. (figuratively) Sexually enthralling.
    • 1980, [Juan D.] Bruce-Novoa, “Bernice Zamora”, in Chicano Authors: Inquiry by Interview, Austin, Tex., London: University of Texas Press, →ISBN, page 214:
      When Chicanos think about us at all, they perpetuate the stereotypes. Gabacho depiction of us as emotionally unchecked, sultry women lusting after pale bodies is just an extension of the fantasy they have about all women. Such dishonest portrayals are why Chicanas are "breaking the silence," as Rita Sánchez calls it.
    • 2012, Kush Varia, “Narrative and Genres”, in Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip, New York, N.Y., Chichester, West Sussex: Wallflower Press, Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 39:
      Geeta Dutt was the wife of Guru Dutt and largely sang for the heroines in his films. Her voice was sultrier than the others, often recognisable by a slightly erotic quality felt through a distinctive quivering in the voice as heard in the song ‘Na Jao Saiyan Chuda Ke Baiyan’ (‘Don’t let go of my wrist my love’) from Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (Abrar Alvi, 1962) []
    • 2024 May 23, Nitasha Tiku, “OpenAI didn’t copy Scarlett Johansson’s voice for ChatGPT, records show”, in Washington Post[2], →ISSN:
      The claim by [Scarlett] Johansson, who played a sultry virtual AI assistant in the 2013 movie “Her,” seemed to be bolstered by a cryptic tweet Altman posted to greet a demo of the product. The tweet said, simply, “her.”

Alternative forms



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