from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom.
  • noun Pensive reflection or contemplation.
  • noun Black bile.
  • noun An emotional state characterized by sullenness and outbreaks of violent anger, believed to arise from an excess of black bile.
  • adjective Feeling, showing, or expressing depression of the spirits; sad or dejected. synonym: sad.
  • adjective Causing or tending to cause sadness or gloom.
  • adjective Pensive; thoughtful.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as melancholia; in old use, insanity of any kind.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness.
  • noun Bitterness of feeling; ill nature.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • noun a feeling of thoughtful sadness
  • noun a humor that was once believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen and to cause sadness and melancholy
  • adjective grave or even gloomy in character
  • noun a constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed
  • adjective 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- 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").



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

    August 9, 2008

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

    December 2, 2008

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

    May 13, 2009

  • 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

  • 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