[ kol-er ]
/ ˈkɒl ər /
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irascibility; anger; wrath; irritability.
Old Physiology. yellow bile.
Obsolete. biliousness.
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Origin of choler

1350–1400; Middle English colera<Medieval Latin, Latin cholera<Greek choléracholera
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does choler mean?

Choler means anger, irritability, or a generally bad temperament.

Choler is more commonly used in its adjective form, choleric, meaning easily angered or generally bad-tempered. People described as choleric are grouchy all the time and prone to getting into arguments, often for very little reason.

The word choler comes from the medieval notion that people’s personalities are based on the balance of four different types of elemental fluids in their body, called humors. One of these was called choler—another name for yellow bile. A choleric person was thought to be generally irritable due to the amount of choler in their body.

Example: She was the kind of choleric person who would get into a fight over anything and everything.

Where does choler come from?

The first records of choler in English come from the 1300s. It derives from the Latin cholera, referring to the disease cholera (which comes from the same root) or the condition jaundice, which involves yellow discoloration of the skin due to an excess of bile. The adjective choleric comes from the related Medieval Latin colericus, meaning “bilious” (“having excess bile”). Bilious can also be a synonym of choleric meaning “easily angered.”

In medieval physiology, a person’s disposition was thought to be based on whichever of the four elemental fluids in their body was most predominant. People who had a lot of phlegm were called phlegmatic and were said to be calm or perhaps apathetic. Those whose blood was said to rule their emotions were called sanguine and were thought to be cheerful. People with an excess of black bile were said to be melancholy—gloomy. Choler, or yellow bile, became associated with irritability, and those with too much of it were said to be choleric.

All of this was pseudoscience, but the adjectives that resulted from it are still used today. Sometimes you’ll see them as part of personality tests claiming to be able to label you with one or a combination of them. But they’re also used in a straightforward way to describe people’s overall temperaments. Choler means “anger,” but it usually refers to a kind of constant anger or near-anger—the kind that makes people have a short fuse and always get angry about something.

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What are some other forms related to choler?

What are some synonyms for choler

What are some words that share a root or word element with choler


What are some words that often get used in discussing choler?



How is choler used in real life?

Sometimes, choler is used in reference to the outdated idea of personalities being governed by bodily fluids. But it’s often used as a more fanciful way to say “anger.” The adjective choleric is more commonly used.



Try using choler!

Which of the following words would NOT be used to describe someone who’s known for their choler?

A. cross
B. irritable
C. tranquil
D. quarrelsome

How to use choler in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for choler

/ (ˈkɒlə) /

anger or ill humour
archaic one of the four bodily humours; yellow bileSee humour (def. 8)
obsolete biliousness

Word Origin for choler

C14: from Old French colère, from Medieval Latin cholera, from Latin: jaundice, cholera
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

Medical definitions for choler


Anger; irritability.
One of the four humors of ancient and medieval physiology, thought to cause anger and bad temper when present in excess.yellow bile
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.