Definition of melancholia
: a mental condition and especially a manic-depressive condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions
melancholiacplay \-lē-ˌak\ noun
melancholia was our Word of the Day on 01/21/2014. Hear the podcast!
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.
Origin and Etymology of melancholia
New Latin, from Late Latin, melancholy
First Known Use: 1607
MELANCHOLIA Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of melancholia for English Language Learners
: a feeling of sadness and depression
Medical Definition of melancholia
: a mental condition and especially a manic-depressive condition characterized by extreme depression, psychomotor agitation, and often hallucinations and delusions
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up melancholia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).