melancholy

noun
mel·​an·​choly | \ˈme-lən-ˌkä-lē \
plural melancholies

Definition of melancholy 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression

b : black bile

c : melancholia

2a : depression of spirits : dejection great outbursts of creativity alternate with feelings of extreme melancholy— Brenda Lane Richardson

b : a pensive mood a fine romantic kind of a melancholy on the fading of the year— Richard Holmes

melancholy

adjective
mel·​an·​choly | \ˈme-lən-ˌkä-lē \

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

b : pensive

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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

Amid the story’s melancholy, wry humor, and tender vulnerability is an insight both rare and liberating: that divorce is an agent of loss but also, and just as important, an act of creation. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction Books: A Sinner at Home in a Fallen World," 18 Oct. 2018 For those seeking a reprieve from the loud and relentlessly positive, the gorgeous melancholy of Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker (4:35 p.m.) is just what the doctor ordered. Terence Cawley, BostonGlobe.com, "Too many choices at Boston Calling? Here’s some help.," 23 May 2018 Yet his long shots of the men, motionless and alone, express a melancholy and isolation that’s oddly touching. Denis Côté, New York Times, "Review: Six Strongmen Cultivate ‘A Skin So Soft’," 5 July 2018 Her bouts of melancholy are an old story with the family. Vivian Gornick, New York Times, "James Wood’s New Novel Confronts the Mystery of Other Minds," 14 June 2018 However, from the depths of the peninsula’s melancholy came an unrivalled show of character, as Italy found a way back into the game through Tarcisio Burgnich. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 12 Weeks to Go - Italy & West Germany's 'Game of the Century'," 1 Apr. 2018 What makes the piece so striking is the grandeur, and the huge melancholy of it. Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle, "SF Symphony brings ‘Boris Godunov’ to concert stage," 12 June 2018 But there are fates worse than death, as Oleg could tell you, and lives that can be happy here and there but are still lived with that hint of melancholy of what once was but is no longer, as everybody on the show could tell you. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Americans finale proved there are TV fates worse than death," 2 June 2018 As evidenced by recent countrywide protests over guns and gender rights, the country may have awoken from its apathy, but America will always have reserves of solipsistic melancholy. New York Times, "That Feeling When You Miss the Early 2000s," 8 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That sense of resignation gives both Castle Rock and Sharp Objects a particularly nihilistic, melancholy bent, and it’s likely something the two series are going to have to work through to reach any sort of closure or conclusion. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Castle Rock and Sharp Objects are the same show with different skins," 26 July 2018 Based off of this fan footage, the new tracks fit right into the band's discography of melancholy and somber anthems. Alessandra Rincón, Billboard, "The National Perform New Songs 'Quiet Light' and 'So Far So Fast' in Croatia: Watch," 12 July 2018 And that is what brings me back: the people and their singular blend of melancholy and exuberance, as well as a wry humor that typically greets every setback. Mary Kaye Schilling, Town & Country, "Discovering the Culture of Mexico City," 18 Oct. 2016 And behind it all is Carter Burwell’s evocative, melancholy score, another Coen trademark. Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times, "‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’: Coen brothers’ Western hits the right notes," 13 Nov. 2018 His slower tempo makes a huge difference, allowing the singer to milk the story for all its melancholy emotion. WSJ, "He Sang One for the Ages," 2 Nov. 2018 Your Twitter account and both of your books deal with anxiety, depression, and melancholy in creative ways. Nojan Aminosharei, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jonny Sun Knows That Twitter Can Still Be The Internet's Good Place," 22 Oct. 2018 Hold the Dark is comparatively slow, sometimes to the point of feeling meditative and melancholy about its action. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Netflix’s Hold the Dark throws Jeffrey Wright to the wolves," 28 Sep. 2018 Lana Del Rey's go-to beauty look is arguably just as instantly recognizable as her melancholy bops. Marci Robin, Allure, "Lana Del Rey Posted a Bare-Faced Selfie and Fans Are Loving the Switch-Up," 15 Sep. 2018

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 1a

Adjective

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

History and Etymology for melancholy

Noun

Middle English malencolie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek, from melan- + cholē bile — more at gall

Adjective

see melancholy entry 1

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Last Updated

20 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for melancholy

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

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More Definitions for melancholy

melancholy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of melancholy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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 \

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 \
plural melancholies

Medical Definition of melancholy 

1a : an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression

b : black bile

c : melancholia

2 : depression or dejection of spirits

Other Words from melancholy

melancholy adjective

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