Natural Roots

Sullen comes from the Middle English soleyn, meaning ‘apart’ or ‘singular’, from the Latin root solus, ‘alone’. In the late 1300s the word’s meaning shifted from alone to gloomy – so now we say sullen to mean glum.

In his poem In My Craft or Sullen Art Dylan Thomas uses sullen in both senses: solitary and morose.

(Image: Natural Roots by Angela Vandenbogaard, available here.)