melancholia

noun
mel·​an·​cho·​lia | \ ˌme-lən-ˈkō-lē-ə How to pronounce melancholia (audio) \

Definition of melancholia

1 : severe depression characterized especially by profound sadness and despair Tense, irritable, I crashed into a fit of melancholia and found myself crying over inconsequential problems.— Susan Wood A depressed Johnson was not the father figure that Boswell, himself prey to crippling bouts of melancholia and insecurity, wanted to celebrate.— Brooke Allen
2 : a sad quality or mood : melancholy There's a touching melancholia to his voice …— Ralph Novak Like Wallace's breakthrough novel, "Infinite Jest," "The Pale King" is pervaded by an air of melancholia, an acute sense of loss.— Tom McCarthy

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Other Words from melancholia

melancholiac \ ˌme-​lən-​ˈkō-​lē-​ˌak How to pronounce melancholia (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Melancholia traces back to Greek melan ("black, dark") and cholē ("bile"). Medical practitioners once adhered to the system of humors-bodily fluids that included black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. An imbalance of these humors was thought to lead to disorders of the mind and body. One suffering from an excess of black bile (believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen) could become sullen and unsociable-liable to anger, irritability, brooding, and depression. Today, doctors no longer ascribe physical and mental disorders to disruptions of the four humors, but the word melancholia is still used in psychiatry (it is identified a "subtype" of clinical depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and as a general term for despondency.

Examples of melancholia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Racial melancholia also turns our attention to how having a proximity to whiteness has levied the unrecognizability of Asian pain and injury. Tim Chan, Rolling Stone, "Screw the ‘Model Minority’ Myth: Why It’s Time for Asians to Fight Back," 23 Apr. 2021 Ronan’s performance grows steadily more luminous as Charlotte’s melancholia recedes and her natural vigor and lust for life reemerge. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Kate Winslet gives her best performance in years in the striking, passionate ‘Ammonite’," 12 Nov. 2020 No, the melancholia that gripped Democrats was rooted in something deeper than wins and losses or control of a particular branch of government. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Garcia: Election won’t give Democrats the clear repudiation of Trumpism they sought," 6 Nov. 2020 Those accused of witchcraft all had similar symptoms, including manic melancholia, psychosis, and delirium. Popular Science, "From the death cap to the alcohol inky: seven poisonous mushrooms you definitely don’t want to eat," 11 Mar. 2020 Those accused of witchcraft all had similar symptoms, including manic melancholia, psychosis, and delirium. Popular Science, "From the death cap to the alcohol inky: seven poisonous mushrooms you definitely don’t want to eat," 11 Mar. 2020 Those accused of witchcraft all had similar symptoms, including manic melancholia, psychosis, and delirium. Popular Science, "From the death cap to the alcohol inky: seven poisonous mushrooms you definitely don’t want to eat," 11 Mar. 2020 Those accused of witchcraft all had similar symptoms, including manic melancholia, psychosis, and delirium. Popular Science, "From the death cap to the alcohol inky: seven poisonous mushrooms you definitely don’t want to eat," 11 Mar. 2020 What The Farewell isolates so incisively is a sense of cultural melancholia specific to the immigrant experience, a mourning for something lost in the process of existing between worlds. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to watch (and skip) in theaters and on Netflix or Amazon this weekend," 21 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'melancholia.' 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 melancholia

circa 1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for melancholia

borrowed from New Latin, going back to Late Latin, "preponderance of black bile" — more at melancholy entry 1

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Time Traveler for melancholia

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The first known use of melancholia was circa 1553

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Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Melancholia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melancholia. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for melancholia

melancholia

noun

English Language Learners Definition of melancholia

old-fashioned + literary : a feeling of sadness and depression

melancholia

noun
mel·​an·​cho·​lia | \ ˌmel-ən-ˈkō-lē-ə How to pronounce melancholia (audio) \

Medical Definition of melancholia

: severe depression characterized especially by profound sadness and despair

Comments on melancholia

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