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melancholy Syllabification: mel·an·chol·y
Pronunciation: /ˈmelənˌkälē/

Definition of melancholy in English:


1A feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause: an air of melancholy surrounded him he had an ability to convey a sense of deep melancholy and yearning through much of his work at the center of his music lies a profound melancholy and nostalgia
More example sentences
  • But the cloud of depression, of a deep sadness and melancholy, hung over our home.
  • He had abandoned that deep melancholy and sadness, and he felt himself much lighter and unencumbered.
  • A morose mood of deep melancholy has descended upon me this afternoon.
1.1 another term for melancholia (as a mental condition).
Example sentences
  • The psychologists remind us that hopelessness is the seedbed of melancholy and destructiveness.
  • A list of patients admitted during the hospital's first years shows that reasons for admission included hysterick disorders, bloody flux, tertian ague, and melancholy.
1.2 historical another term for black bile.
Example sentences
  • And she's just encountered the old blood groupings, the four humours: sanguine, choler, phlegm, melancholy.
  • Sanguine relates to air, choleric to fire, melancholy to earth and phlegmatic to water.
  • By the sixteenth century hypochondria had become an aspect of melancholy and was associated especially with the humour of black bile and with the spleen, the organ that was supposed to clear black bile from the body.


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1Having a feeling of melancholy; sad and pensive: she felt a little melancholy the dog has a melancholy expression
More example sentences
  • But in spite of his melancholy bearing and despondent expression, there were few who could say that they had ever seen a man of more distinguished presence.
  • Now she couldn't look back and remember those times without forcing back tears, or battling a melancholy wave of sadness.
  • Their melancholy expressions are at odds with the theatrical gaiety of their attire.
1.1Causing or expressing sadness; depressing: the study makes melancholy if instructive reading
More example sentences
  • She hung up while Eden still held on, listening to the melancholy sound of the dial tone.
  • Sweetened by distance, the melancholy tones of a shepherd's bagpipe drifted on the breeze.
  • The Slave Dancer is written through Jessie's eyes, and projects a depressing, melancholy mood.


Middle English: from Old French melancolie, via late Latin from Greek melankholia, from melas, melan- 'black' + kholē 'bile', an excess of which was formerly believed to cause depression.

  • According to the medieval theory of the four humours ( see humour), melancholy or black bile caused depression. The word goes back to Greek melankholia, from melas ‘black’ (source of mid 19th-century melanin and melanoma) and kholē ‘bile’ (source of cholera (Late Middle English), choleric (Middle English), and cholesterol (late 19th century)). Today it tends to refer to a pensive or moody sadness rather than deep depression.



Pronunciation: /ˌmelənˈkälik/
Example sentences
  • You could get melancholic and unhappy if there is discord in the family or a misunderstanding between friends.
  • A lot of writers are depressive - I tend more towards anxious and melancholic.
  • In a way despite the seasonal cheerfulness, Christmas is quintessentially a moody and melancholic time.


Pronunciation: /ˌmeləNGˈkälək(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • Her room, which normally looks as if it has been burgled, is empty, incongruously, melancholically tidy, save for a few carrier bags of clothes borrowed from friends.
  • Handfuls of other gymnasts from Mika's team clapped him on the back as he ambled melancholically towards his black nylon bag, pulling on a maroon jacket and waiting in his usual quiet, brooding manner for the scores to be announced.
  • ‘No, maybe later,’ Caleb sighed melancholically, looking thoroughly defeated.

Words that rhyme with melancholy

knuckly • sailorly

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