from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom: "There is melancholy in the wind and sorrow in the grass” ( Charles Kuralt).
  • n. Pensive reflection or contemplation.
  • n. Archaic Black bile.
  • n. Archaic An emotional state characterized by sullenness and outbreaks of violent anger, believed to arise from black bile.
  • adj. Affected with or marked by depression of the spirits; sad. See Synonyms at sad.
  • adj. Tending to promote sadness or gloom: a letter with some melancholy news.
  • adj. Pensive; thoughtful.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Affected with great sadness or depression.
  • n. Black bile, formerly thought to be one of the four "cardinal humours" of animal bodies.
  • n. Great sadness or depression, especially of a thoughtful or introspective nature.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Depressed in spirits; dejected; gloomy dismal.
  • adj. Producing great evil and grief; causing dejection; calamitous; afflictive.
  • adj. Somewhat deranged in mind; having the jugment impaired.
  • adj. Favorable to meditation; somber.
  • n. Depression of spirits; a gloomy state continuing a considerable time; deep dejection; gloominess.
  • n. Great and continued depression of spirits, amounting to mental unsoundness; melancholia.
  • n. Pensive maditation; serious thoughtfulness.
  • n. Ill nature.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as melancholia; in old use, insanity of any kind.
  • n. A gloomy state of mind, particularly when habitual or of considerable duration; depression of spirits arising from grief or natural disposition; dejection; sadness. Also, in technical use, melancholia.
  • n. Sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness.
  • n. Bitterness of feeling; ill nature.
  • n. Synonyms Hypochondria, gloominess, despondency.
  • Produced by melancholia or madness of any kind.
  • Affected by depression of spirits; depressed in spirits; dejected; gloomy.
  • Given to contemplation; thoughtful; pensive. See I., 3.
  • Producing or fitted to produce sadness or gloom; sad; mournful: as, a melancholy fact; a melancholy event.
  • Grave or gloomy in character; suggestive of melancholy; somber.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a feeling of thoughtful sadness
  • n. a humor that was once believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen and to cause sadness and melancholy
  • adj. grave or even gloomy in character
  • n. a constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed
  • adj. characterized by or causing or expressing sadness


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English melancolie, from Old French, from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholiā : melās, melan-, black + kholē, bile; see ghel-2 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek μελαγχολία (melancholia, "atrabiliousness"), from μέλας (melas), μελαν- (melan-, "black, dark, murky") + χολή (chole, "bile"). Compare the Latin ātra bīlis ("black bile").


  • I hate to overuse the word 'melancholy,' but it is at this point.

    On the Set Farewell to Chuck Part 3: Cast Tears and Favorite Moments

  • The two sisters and Lord L. were then solicitous to know what was the occasion, which he called melancholy, that had engaged his attendance so many days at Canterbury.

    Sir Charles Grandison

  • He had heard the day before from his friend's aunt, a helpless person to whom telegraphy was difficult and travel inconceivable, and who, in eight pages of unpunctuated eloquence, made over to Dick what she called the melancholy privilege of winding up her nephew's affairs.


  • Mrs. Shandy, who will know nothing of love or of passion, and will not trouble herself about Madame de Mortsauf or Lady Dudley; who will be wholly indifferent to those moments of ennui which you call melancholy, during which you are as lively as a rainy day, -- a wife who will be to you, in short, the excellent sister of charity whom you are seeking.

    The Lily of the Valley

  • The adjective "melancholy" is correct, but it is something less than pleasure.


  • I think de Lint tells stories with a certain melancholy in them very well.

    Book Cover Smackdown! 'Muse and Reverie' vs. 'Wings of Wrath' vs. 'Lesser Demons'

  • Still, when talk turns toward carbon footprints and global warming, lately a certain melancholy -- almost a vague acedia -- has begun to shadow my heart.

    Cathleen Falsani: God Is Green: Why 'Less Bad' Is Not Good

  • Their melancholy is soothing, and their joy elevating to a degree I never experienced in studying the authors of any other country.

    Chapter 6

  • Why did he seem to be - if I might put it this way - encased in melancholy?

    Sports Reporting Hero Speaks Of 'Silent Season'

  • As the leaves fall, a little seasonal melancholy is in the air.

    2009 November | Heretical Ideas Magazine


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  • It seems an unexpected symbol of the plaintive melancholy of the Portuguese character that the small confections which we call kisses they call sighs, suspiros. --The Atlantic Monthly, Vol.6, No. 37, November 1860.

    October 17, 2011

  • She dwells with Beauty -- Beauty that must die;

    And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips

    Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,

    Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips;

    Ay, in the very temple of delight

    Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,

    Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue

    Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;

    His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,

    And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

    -John Keats, Ode on Melancholy

    July 26, 2009

  • I always think "the melancholy death of oyster boy" by Tim Burton when I see this word.

    May 13, 2009

  • I will always picture Haruhi Suzumiya when I think of this word.

    December 2, 2008

  • No comments? I'm gonna start one. I love this word!

    August 9, 2008