bil·​ious | \ ˈbil-yəs How to pronounce bilious (audio) \

Definition of bilious

1a biology : of or relating to a yellow or greenish fluid that is secreted by the liver and that aids especially in the emulsification and absorption of fats : of or relating to bile (see bile sense 1b)
b biology : marked by or suffering from liver dysfunction and especially excessive secretion of bile a bilious attack a bilious patient
c : appearing as if affected by a bilious disorder a sickly bilious face
2 : of or indicative of a peevish ill-natured disposition bilious commentary her bilious humor
3 : sickeningly unpleasant the bilious weather with clapboards painted red and bilious yellow— Sinclair Lewis

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Other Words from bilious

biliously adverb
biliousness noun

Did you know?

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.

Examples of bilious in a Sentence

a bilious old dog who snaps at everyone
Recent Examples on the Web Tropical Storm Kate is still spinning in the mid Atlantic but its organization is looking bilious. Joe Mario Pedersen,, 31 Aug. 2021 Maybe Zuckerberg envisioned that, in determining whether Trump should return, the board would unroll a litany of bilious Trump posts to justify its ruling. Steven Levy, Wired, 5 May 2021 The freedom inside the bilious green room, while naughty, funny, and subversive, also included the darker liberties. Jeremy Lybarger, The New Republic, 7 Apr. 2021 But the election was more than a vindication of persistence or even a partial rejection of the bilious, boodling, brain-dead regime of Donald J. Trump. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 7 Nov. 2020 This tune, dotted with Roth’s patented milk-curdling screams, ended with the lead screamer striking a devilish pose at the stage’s end while being bathed in torrents of bilious green lights. Want more? The Enquirer, 7 Oct. 2020 But a person expiring between the ages of one and 44 years is more likely to fall under what the charts render a yawning wedge of bilious turquoise: the color of dying by accident. New York Times, 12 Dec. 2019 Guided by the tastes of critics and academics, the museums and galleries fill up with the ugly, the sordid, the cruel, the bilious, the strange. Kyle Smith, National Review, 27 Aug. 2019 Green is nice, but not in the bilious avatars of Excel and FaceTime and Google Sheets. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, 2 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of bilious

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bilious

Middle French bilieux, from Latin biliosus, from bilis

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The first known use of bilious was in 1541

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Last Updated

10 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bilious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for bilious



English Language Learners Definition of bilious

: having or causing a sick feeling in the stomach : feeling or causing nausea
: angry or bad-tempered
: very unpleasant to look at


bil·​ious | \ ˈbil-yəs How to pronounce bilious (audio) \

Medical Definition of bilious

1 : of or relating to bile
2 : marked by or affected with disordered liver function and especially excessive secretion of bile

Other Words from bilious

biliousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on bilious

Nglish: Translation of bilious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bilious for Arabic Speakers


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