Definition of bilious
- a bilious attack
- a bilious patient
- a sickly bilious face
- bilious commentary
- her bilious humor
- the bilious weather
- with clapboards painted red and bilious yellow
- —Sinclair Lewis
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
a bilious old dog who snaps at everyone
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bilious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Bilious is one of several words whose origins trace to the old belief that four bodily humors (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood) control temperament. Just like phlegmatic ("of a slow and stolid phlegm-driven character"), melancholy ("experiencing dejection associated with black bile"), and sanguine ("of a cheerful, blood-based disposition"), bilious suggests a personality associated with an excess of one of the humors - in this case, yellow bile. Bilious, which first appeared in English in the mid-1500s, derives from the Middle French bilieux, which in turn traces to bilis, Latin for bile. In the past, "bile" was also called choler, which gives us choleric, a synonym of bilious.
First Known Use: 1541See Words from the same year
: having or causing a sick feeling in the stomach : feeling or causing nausea
: angry or bad-tempered
: very unpleasant to look at
What made you want to look up bilious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
investment of mental or emotional energy
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