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 Late August should be a time of melancholy for the waning days of summer, mixed with excitement for the new and unknown. Jenny Anderson, The Atlantic, "2020 Is Ruining Back-to-School Rituals," 28 Aug. 2020 The cast was up to the task, nailing the show’s tricky tone of sometimes absurdist humor and gentle melancholy. oregonlive, "TV’s new Golden Age: 8 modern classics that helped make TV the center of the culture," 26 Aug. 2020 And the city welcomed it, wrestled a steady heat from my melancholy. Megan Fernandes, The New Yorker, "Shanghai," 29 June 2020 The Dido-ish countermelody by the singer beabadoobee injects a dose of early ’90s melancholy. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Mavis Staples’s Soulful Solidarity, and 10 More New Songs," 3 Apr. 2020 That big exhale, that feeling of simultaneous content and melancholy of a great night gone, is how TSHA’s music feels. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Billboard Dance Emerging Artists: October 2019," 8 Oct. 2019 Yet there was something wonderfully endearing about his exaggerated melancholy, which often veered into unrepeatably obscene riffs. Eric Randolph, The New York Review of Books, "The Bleak Humor of Tehran’s One and Only Standup Comic," 10 Feb. 2020 It’s hard to resist its invitation to bask in its peculiar blend of melancholy and hope. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: New romances provide welcome balm for stressful times," 3 Apr. 2020 Conversely the two André Kertész Polaroids in the show really do look like Kertészes: lyrical, ever so slightly mysterious, conveying both mirth and melancholy. BostonGlobe.com, "This special Polaroid own-ness — as artistry, as innovation, as cultural state of mind — is the subject of “The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology.” The exhibition runs through June 21 at the MIT Museum.," 25 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective With Al so far away and at risk of so much danger, the family faced a melancholy yuletide. cleveland, "Retelling a World War II-vintage Christmas tale: Chris Quinn," 25 Dec. 2020 This year’s pronouncements arrive shadowed by melancholy and, even more than usual, a vague illegitimacy. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "My Favorite Fiction of 2020," 17 Dec. 2020 Ball does strong work in comically combining both self-deprecating melancholy and fierce pride. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "‘Torch Song’ still burns brightly | Review," 13 Dec. 2020 This emotional register—nostalgic, vulnerable, melancholy yet optimistic—pervades BTS’s work and captures the core of their appeal to millions of fans around the world. Lenika Cruz, The Atlantic, "BTS’s ‘Life Goes On’ Did the Impossible," 30 Nov. 2020 So many people weren’t afforded this melancholy joy, so many people had to go without. Katy Kelleher, Vogue, "How Do You Create Memories When Every Day Is the Same?," 23 Dec. 2020 Whether swaggering blues, melancholy meditations or pop-culture poetry, the bard is still delivering trenchant, fresh and confoundingly provocative music at age 79. Jon Bream Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Best music of the worst year: Our music critics' favorite albums and songs of 2020," 17 Dec. 2020 Despite the lyrics being nearly indiscernible, there’s a melancholy tone that breaks through the filters with force. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 25 Best Dance Songs of 2020: Critic's Picks," 17 Dec. 2020 Her twinkling cover version squeezes maximum pathos from the song’s shapely tune and melancholy punchlines. Jody Rosen, Los Angeles Times, "The 50 best Christmas songs of the last 50 years," 14 Dec. 2020

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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Learn More about melancholy

Time Traveler for melancholy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for melancholy

Cite this Entry

“Melancholy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melancholy. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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