[ kol-er-ik, kuh-ler-ik ]
/ ˈkɒl ər ɪk, kəˈlɛr ɪk /
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extremely irritable or easily angered; irascible: a choleric disposition.
  1. bilious.
  2. causing biliousness.
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Origin of choleric

1300–50; Middle English colerik<Medieval Latin colericus bilious, Latin cholericus<Greek cholerikós.See cholera, -ic


chol·er·i·cal·ly, chol·er·ic·ly, adverbchol·er·ic·ness, nounnon·chol·er·ic, adjectiveun·chol·er·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does choleric mean?

Choleric means 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 choleric 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. A choleric person was thought to be generally irritable due to the amount of yellow bile, or choler, in their body.

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

Where does choleric come from?

The first records of choleric in English come from the early 1300s. It comes from the Medieval Latin colericus, meaning “bilious” (“having excess bile”). Bilious can also be a synonym of choleric meaning “easily angered.” Choleric is the adjective form of the noun choler, which can refer to yellow bile or to anger and irritability. The disease cholera gets its name from the same root.

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. Choleric doesn’t just mean “angry”—you wouldn’t use it to describe someone who was angry in one particular situation. Instead, choleric is applied to the kind of people who have a short fuse and are just about always getting angry about something.

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What are some other forms related to choleric?

What are some synonyms for choleric?

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


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


How is choleric used in real life?

Sometimes, choleric is used in reference to the outdated idea of personalities being governed by bodily fluids. But it’s often used in a straightforward way to simply mean “bad-tempered.” It’s a bit more formal than describing someone as grouchy or grumpy.



Try using choleric!

Which of the following words would NOT be used to describe someone considered choleric?

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

How to use choleric in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for choleric

/ (ˈkɒlərɪk) /

bilious or causing biliousness

Derived forms of choleric

cholerically or cholericly, adverb
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