melancholy

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French melancolie, from Ancient Greek μελαγχολία(melankholía, atrabiliousness), from μέλας(mélas), μελαν-(melan-, black, dark, murky) + χολή(kholḗ, bile). Compare the Latin ātra bīlis(black bile).

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

melancholy ‎(comparative more melancholy, superlative most melancholy)

  1. Affected with great sadness or depression.
    Melancholy people don't talk much.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[1]:
      “[…] the awfully hearty sort of Christmas cards that people do send to other people that they don't know at all well. You know. The kind that have mottoes [] . And then, when you see [the senders], you probably find that they are the most melancholy old folk with malignant diseases. […]”

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Noun[edit]

melancholy ‎(countable and uncountable, plural melancholies)

  1. (historical) Black bile, formerly thought to be one of the four "cardinal humours" of animal bodies.
    • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Bk.I, New York 2001, p.148:
      Melancholy, cold and dry, thick, black, and sour, [] is a bridle to the other two hot humours, blood and choler, preserving them in the blood, and nourishing the bones.
  2. Great sadness or depression, especially of a thoughtful or introspective nature.
    • 1593, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, V. i. 34:
      My mind was troubled with deep melancholy.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act IV, Scene 1,[2]
      I have neither the scholar’s melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician’s, which is fantastical; nor the courtier’s, which is proud; nor the soldier’s, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer’s, which is politic; nor the lady’s, which is nice; nor the lover’s, which is all these; but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the sundry contemplation of my travels; in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.

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