1. Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom.
2. Pensive reflection or contemplation.
a. Black bile.
b. An emotional state characterized by sullenness and outbreaks of violent anger, believed to arise from an excess of black bile.
1. Feeling, showing, or expressing depression of the spirits; sad or dejected. See Synonyms at sad.
2. Causing or tending to cause sadness or gloom: a letter with some melancholy news.
3. Pensive; thoughtful.
[Middle English malencolie, melancolie, from Old French, from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholiā : melās, melan-, black + kholē, bile; see ghel-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus