Meaning of melancholy


Melancholy is beyond sad: as a noun or an adjective, it’s a word for the gloomiest of spirits.

Being melancholy means that you’re overcome in sorrow, wrapped up in sorrowful thoughts. The word started off as a noun for deep sadness, from a rather disgusting source. Back in medieval times, people thought that secretions of the body called “humors” determined their feelings, so a depressed person was thought to have too much of the humor known as melancholy — literally “black bile” secreted from the spleen. Fortunately, we no longer think we’re ruled by our spleens, and that black bile has been replaced by another color of sorrow: the “blues.”

Definitions of melancholy
  1. noun

    a constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed

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    type of:


    a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity

  2. noun

    a feeling of thoughtful sadness

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    gloom, gloominess, somberness, sombreness

    a feeling of melancholy apprehension

    a feeling of dispirited melancholy
    brooding, pensiveness

    persistent morbid meditation on a problem
    Weltschmerz, world-weariness

    sadness on thinking about the evils of the world
    type of:

    sadness, unhappiness

    emotions experienced when not in a state of well-being

  3. noun

    a humor that was once believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen and to cause sadness and melancholy


    black bile

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    type of:

    bodily fluid, body fluid, humor, humour, liquid body substance

    the liquid parts of the body

  4. adjective

    characterized by or causing or expressing sadness

    “growing more
    melancholy every hour”
    “we acquainted him with the
    melancholy truth”



    experiencing or showing sorrow or unhappiness
  5. adjective

    grave or even gloomy in character


    somber, sombre

    cheerless, depressing, uncheerful

    causing sad feelings of gloom and inadequacy

Word Family

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