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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.