noun, plural mel·an·chol·ies.

a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression.
sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness.
  1. the condition of having too much black bile, considered in ancient and medieval medicine to cause gloominess and depression.
  2. black bile.


affected with, characterized by, or showing melancholy; mournful; depressed: a melancholy mood.
causing melancholy or sadness; saddening: a melancholy occasion.
soberly thoughtful; pensive.

Origin of melancholy

1275–1325; Middle English melancholie < Late Latin melancholia < Greek melancholía condition of having black bile, equivalent to melan- melan- + chol(ḗ) bile + -ia -ia
Related formsmel·an·chol·i·ly, adverbmel·an·chol·i·ness, nounun·mel·an·chol·y, adjective

Synonyms for melancholy

Antonyms for melancholy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for melancholies

Historical Examples of melancholies

British Dictionary definitions for melancholies


noun plural -cholies

a constitutional tendency to gloominess or depression
a sad thoughtful state of mind; pensiveness
  1. a gloomy character, thought to be caused by too much black bile
  2. one of the four bodily humours; black bileSee humour (def. 8)


characterized by, causing, or expressing sadness, dejection, etc
Derived Formsmelancholily (ˈmɛlənˌkɒlɪlɪ), adverbmelancholiness, noun

Word Origin for melancholy

C14: via Old French from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholia, from melas black + kholē bile
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 melancholies



c.1300, "condition characterized by sullenness, gloom, irritability," from Old French melancolie "black bile, ill disposition, anger, annoyance" (13c.), from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholia "sadness," literally (excess of) "black bile," from melas (genitive melanos) "black" (see melanin) + khole "bile" (see Chloe). Medieval physiology attributed depression to excess of "black bile," a secretion of the spleen and one of the body's four "humors."

The Latin word also is the source of Spanish melancolia, Italian melancolia, German Melancholie, Danish melankoli, etc. Old French variant malencolie (also in Middle English) is by false association with mal "sickness."



late 14c., "with or caused by black bile; sullen, gloomy, sad," from melancholy (n.); sense of "deplorable" (of a fact or state of things) is from 1710.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

melancholies in Medicine




Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.