[ mel-uhn-kol-ee ]
/ ˈmɛl ənˌkɒl i /

WATCH NOW: The Bizarre Origin Of The Word "Melancholy"

WATCH NOW: The Bizarre Origin Of The Word "Melancholy"

The meaning of melancholy was never a good thing, but it was way worse in medieval times … kind of like everything else back then when I think about it, actually.


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 forms

mel·an·chol·i·ly, adverbmel·an·chol·i·ness, nounun·mel·an·chol·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for melancholy

British Dictionary definitions for melancholy


/ (ˈmɛlənkəlɪ) /

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 Forms

melancholily (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

Medicine definitions for melancholy


[ mĕlən-kŏl′ē ]


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.