• synonyms


or at·ra·bil·iar

[a-truh-bil-yuh s]
See more synonyms for atrabilious on Thesaurus.com
  1. gloomy; morose; melancholy; morbid.
  2. irritable; bad-tempered; splenetic.
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Origin of atrabilious

1645–55; < Latin ātra bīli(s) black bile + -ous
Related formsat·ra·bil·ious·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for atrabilious

Historical Examples

  • After his conversion he made amends, though he was always the atrabilious faultfinder.


    James Huneker

  • Much dining-out doth breed dyspepsia, and atrabilious views are apt to be a leetle lop-sided.

  • I hold them to be a race of pessimists, recruited amongst beggarly philosophers and knavish, atrabilious theologians.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • The melancholy or atrabilious temperament is of a different character.

    Curiosities of Medical Experience

    J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen

  • It was his wife, Petronille, still young and passing handsome, but of atrabilious and harsh mien.

British Dictionary definitions for atrabilious



  1. rare irritable
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Derived Formsatrabiliousness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin ātra bīlis black bile, from āter black + bīlis bile 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for atrabilious


1650s, from Latin atra bilis, translating Greek melankholia "black bile" (see melancholy; also cf. bile). Atra is fem. of ater "black, dark, gloomy," perhaps related to root of atrocity. Related: Atrabiliousness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper