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
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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
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