melancholy

noun
mel·​an·​choly | \ ˈme-lən-ˌkä-lē How to pronounce melancholy (audio) \
plural melancholies

Definition of melancholy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : depression of spirits : dejection great outbursts of creativity alternate with feelings of extreme melancholy— Brenda Lane Richardson Mitchell sounds utterly alone in her melancholy, turning the sadness into tender art.Rolling Stone
b : a pensive mood a fine romantic kind of a melancholy on the fading of the year— Richard Holmes One white arm and hand drooped over the side of the chair, and her whole pose and figure spoke of an absorbing melancholy.— Arthur Conan Doyle
b archaic : an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression
c archaic : black bile

melancholy

adjective

Definition of melancholy (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : suggestive or expressive of sadness or depression of mind or spirit sang in a melancholy voice
b : causing or tending to cause sadness or depression of mind or spirit : dismal a melancholy thought
2a : depressed in spirits : dejected, sad

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Examples of melancholy in a Sentence

Noun the bleakness of winter sometimes gives me cause for melancholy Adjective A melancholy lesson of advancing years is the realization that you can't make old friends. — Christopher Hitchens, Harper's, June 1999 He has a snarled mop of spiky black hair, melancholy circles around his eyes, and a tiny Cupid's-bow mouth. — Pauline Kael, New Yorker, 17 Dec. 1990 I see your mournful party in my mind's eye under every varying circumstance of the day;  … the efforts to talk, the frequent summons to melancholy orders and cares, and poor Edward, restless in misery, going from one room to the other … — Jane Austen, letter, 24 Oct. 1808 She was in a melancholy mood. He became quiet and melancholy as the hours slowly passed.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun His voice holds all the melancholy of our once-green and blue Earth—the Earth of the Before-Times, of the Long-Long-Ago. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "The machines are whispering: We tested AI Dungeon 2 and cannot stop laughing," 20 Jan. 2020 Get your shaggy haircut and your 1996 melancholy ready: Matchbox Twenty is coming to the Portland area in September. oregonlive, "Matchbox Twenty and the Wallflowers are coming to Sunlight Supply Amphitheater near Portland in September," 16 Jan. 2020 There’s an underlying tone of melancholy to the story. Cressida Leyshon, The New Yorker, "Roddy Doyle on Ex-Hurricane Ophelia and the Wild Atlantic Way," 25 Nov. 2019 Below, find some of the most excited, pointed, melancholy, and hilarious social media reactions to Trump’s impeachment. Emma Specter, Vogue, "Here’s How Donald Trump—And Others—Reacted to His Impeachment on Twitter," 19 Dec. 2019 The National is celebrated for its air of literate melancholy, a mood that becomes this particular Cyrano. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Peter Dinklage Tackles ‘Cyrano’ Without the Nose," 7 Nov. 2019 Bignamini and the orchestra gave the gale-force grief of the concerto’s opening full voice before Barnatan responded with gentle melancholy, his solos bearing an air of asserting dignity amid distress. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Minnesota Orchestra review: Pianist Barnatan fuels emotion that drives rewarding concert," 10 Oct. 2019 Ingeniously, the very romance of memory and the beautiful melancholy of love and separation are built into the substance of the film, through readings from Ovid of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, and Marianne’s distinctive interpretation of it. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Speaking for Women’s Art in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”," 10 Dec. 2019 Decatur/Huntsville rockers tap into leather-jacket melancholy. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "15 recent songs to know by Alabama musicians," 22 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Maar had a sharp eye for the absurd and the unusual, and all her work is characterised by playfulness balanced with a certain melancholy. The Economist, "Dora Maar, an overlooked star of surrealism," 3 Dec. 2019 Robyn helped usher in the most recent wave with this joyous yet melancholy anthem about dancing through heartache and finding strength in solitude. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "10 songs that defined the 2010s in music," 18 Dec. 2019 The song feels fiercely romantic, nostalgic and melancholy all at once. Jon Ali, Billboard, "Queer Necessities: Big Freedia, Greyson Chance & More on Billboard Pride's December 2019 Playlist," 6 Dec. 2019 Ad Astra is a hopeful tale, but a pensive and melancholy one, wrapped up in the splendid visuals of outer space. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The 10 Best Films of 2019," 5 Dec. 2019 The trio returns today with their latest Ocean, a back to basics collection of love songs both joyful and melancholy. Sarah Rodman, EW.com, "Charles Kelley on how Lady Antebellum dove deep on new album 'Ocean'," 15 Nov. 2019 The Anxiety of Influence’’ and melancholy regard for literature’s old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89. BostonGlobe.com, "NEW YORK — Harold Bloom, the eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal ‘‘The Anxiety of Influence’’ and melancholy regard for literature’s old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89.," 16 Oct. 2019 Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig — all hewing closely to the original arrangements from Mitchell’s alternately joyful and melancholy work exploring loss, sacrifice, identity and freedom. Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times, "Joni Mitchell makes rare public appearance at Brandi Carlile ‘Blue’ tribute," 15 Oct. 2019 The music in Stardew Valley can feel buoyant, melancholy, or numinous—sometimes all three at once. Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, "The one video game my kids played all year long," 30 Dec. 2019

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for melancholy

Noun

Middle English malencolie, melancolie "black bile, preponderance or excess of black bile, state (as anger or sorrow) produced by excessive black bile," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French malencolie, melencolie, borrowed from Late Latin melancholia (Medieval Latin malencolia, by association with the prefix mal- mal-), borrowed from Greek melancholía, from melan-, athematic variant of melano- melano- + cholḗ "bile" + -ia -ia entry 1 — more at gall entry 1

Adjective

Middle English malincolie, melancolie, from attributive use of malencolie melancholy entry 1, probably reinforced by construal of -ly as an adjective suffix

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Time Traveler for melancholy

Time Traveler

The first known use of melancholy was in the 14th century

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Statistics for melancholy

Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Melancholy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melancholy. Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for melancholy

melancholy

noun
How to pronounce melancholy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of melancholy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

old-fashioned + literary : a sad mood or feeling

melancholy

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of melancholy (Entry 2 of 2)

: feeling or showing sadness : very unhappy

melancholy

adjective
mel·​an·​choly | \ ˈme-lən-ˌkä-lē How to pronounce melancholy (audio) \

Kids Definition of melancholy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: sad sense 1 I'll be melancholy if you go.

melancholy

noun

Kids Definition of melancholy (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sad or gloomy mood

melancholy

noun
mel·​an·​choly | \ ˈmel-ən-ˌkäl-ē How to pronounce melancholy (audio) \
plural melancholies

Medical Definition of melancholy

1 : depression or dejection of spirits also : melancholia
2 archaic
a : an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression

Other Words from melancholy

melancholy adjective

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Comments on melancholy

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