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Adust comes from Latin adustus, the past participle of "adurere" ("to set fire to"), a verb formed from the Latin prefix ad- and the verb "urere" ("to burn"). It entered the English language in the early 15th century as a medical term related to the four bodily humors - black bile, blood, phlegm, and yellow bile - which were believed at the time to determine a person's health and temperament. "Adust" was used to describe a condition of the humors in which they supposedly became heated or combusted. Adust black bile in particular was believed to be a source of melancholy. The association with melancholy gave rise to an adjectival sense of adust meaning "of a gloomy appearance or disposition," but that sense is now considered archaic.
Origin and Etymology of adust
Middle English, from Latin adustus, past participle of adurere to set fire to, from ad- + urere to burn — more at ember
First Known Use: 15th century
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