noun, plural mel·an·chol·ies.

  1. a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression.
  2. sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness.
  3. Archaic.
    1. the condition of having too much black bile, considered in ancient and medieval medicine to cause gloominess and depression.
    2. black bile.


  1. affected with, characterized by, or showing melancholy; mournful; depressed: a melancholy mood.
  2. causing melancholy or sadness; saddening: a melancholy occasion.
  3. soberly thoughtful; pensive.

noun plural -cholies

  1. a constitutional tendency to gloominess or depression
  2. a sad thoughtful state of mind; pensiveness
  3. archaic
    1. a gloomy character, thought to be caused by too much black bile
    2. one of the four bodily humours; black bileSee humour (def. 8)


  1. characterized by, causing, or expressing sadness, dejection, etc

n.c.1300, “condition characterized by sullenness, gloom, irritability,” from Old French melancolie “black bile, ill disposition, anger, annoyance” (13c.), from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholia “sadness,” literally (excess of) “black bile,” from melas (genitive melanos) “black” (see melanin) + khole “bile” (see Chloe). Medieval physiology attributed depression to excess of “black bile,” a secretion of the spleen and one of the body’s four “humors.” The Latin word also is the source of Spanish melancolia, Italian melancolia, German Melancholie, Danish melankoli, etc. Old French variant malencolie (also in Middle English) is by false association with mal “sickness.” adj.late 14c., “with or caused by black bile; sullen, gloomy, sad,” from melancholy (n.); sense of “deplorable” (of a fact or state of things) is from 1710. n.

  1. Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom.
  2. Melancholia.

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