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I'm translating a novel from English to Persian and I've come upon a strange word. I couldn't find its meaning. The sentence is:

He’s been in a sull ever since you married Judge McKelva and didn’t send him a special engraved invitation to the wedding,” said Bubba.

This is from The Optimist's Daughter, a novel by an American novelist.

I appreciate your help :-)

  • In following sentences it is repeated again in this sentence: Mrs. Chisom said, “I said, ‘DeWitt, now! You’re a brother just the same as Bubba is—and Roscoe was—and it’s your place to get up out of that sull and come on with us to the funeral. You can take the wheel in Lake Charles.’ But DeWitt is DeWitt, he expects his feelings to be considered.” – shiva Jul 13 '17 at 7:49
  • In the following sentence it is repeated in this sentence: "it’s your place to get up out of that sull and come on with us to the funeral. " – shiva Jul 13 '17 at 7:57
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    I think "in a sulk" would be more idiomatic US English. – Hot Licks Jul 13 '17 at 12:00
  • Perhaps the author was confusing the word with 'lull'. noun: lull; 1. a temporary interval of quiet or lack of activity. "for two days there had been a lull in the fighting" – thomj1332 Jul 13 '17 at 12:45
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Oxford English Dictionary

sull noun (rare) a sulky fit, a ‘sulk’.
1972 E. Welty Optimist's Daughter ii. iv. 97 He's been in a sull ever since you married Judge McKelva and didn't send him a special engraved invitation to the wedding.

Eudora Welty was an accomplished author, and this is an example of using a verb as a noun. Maybe it's something she heard in real life. Maybe it's her own creation. English is flexible like this.

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The Dictionary of American Regionalisms says that sull means "in a sulking, sullen mood". They cite the The Optimist's Daughter, though, so we still only have a single piece of evidence.

But in any case, we can tell from the context that's most probably what was meant.

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Oxford Dictionary says (as a verb, but from the context it seems to work as a noun as well):

(of a person) become sullen; sulk.

And sullen means:

Bad-tempered and sulky.

  • They only list sull as a verb though, not as a noun. – dangph Jul 13 '17 at 9:06
  • @dangph You are right, but from the context it makes sense either way. I will add that to my answer though, thank you. – loading... Jul 13 '17 at 11:30
  • I'd translate sull as gloom or bad mood. Better yet, take 'in a sull' and use the Farsi for depressed, cranky, or self-pitying: افسرده , دلربا, or خود-تاسف. – Yosef Baskin Jul 13 '17 at 15:49

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