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 Built into this song sonically and lyrically are competing rushes of melancholy and euphoria, overtaking one another for fleeting moments. Kat Bein, Billboard, "The Naked And Famous, RAC and Felix Cartal Remix Luna Shadows' 'Waves': Exclusive," 20 Aug. 2019 Doomed interracial relationships are the source of many of the stories’ melancholy. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Great Migration North," 28 June 2019 These limited open-world segments, which make up a large portion of the single-player campaign are shot through with bits of quiet exploring, and an air of melancholy as Kait discovers lost secrets of herself and the COG. Wired, "Gears 5: A War Game That Really Deals with War Trauma," 5 Sep. 2019 The actual song is pop, but there’s a real melancholy to it. Selma Fonseca, Billboard, "Gabe Lopez Puts YouTubers Austin and Patrick In Drag for 'Vivian & Valerie' Video: Premiere," 28 June 2019 As a young woman, I was drawn to female characters whose repressed anger fermented into a melancholy that made them feel unreal, ghostly. Longreads, "Demonology: A Woman’s Right to Fury," 10 June 2019 And then Kuchlenz — known as ZJ del Mar — comes back with an explicit verse that contradicts the song’s previous melancholy. Kimberly Mitchell, The Mercury News, "SadInSF members channel emotion, friendship through music; Collaboration of Carlmont High grads recently played Palo Alto festival," 23 June 2019 The elegiac score by Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva is redolent with the buoyant melancholy of klezmer. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Review: ‘Indecent’ at the Ahmanson pays haunting tribute to a daring Yiddish play," 11 June 2019 The iconoclastic writer/director’s stamp is all over his ninth film (★★★ out of four; rated R; in theaters nationwide Friday), Tarantino's signature style and humor melding with violence, a little melancholy and thought-provoking character drama. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: 'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood' is a fairy tale only Quentin Tarantino could tell," 23 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Optimism and melancholy collide and conspire, catching you in a whirlpool of deepening emotions. David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, "Forget the corpse flower. ‘Blossoming Carcass’ at this gallery has alien appeal," 2 Sep. 2019 The show — a witty yet melancholy blend of fairy-tale stories that was adapted into a 2014 film with Meryl Streep — was a pilot production for both the community center and the licensing company Music Theater International. Nancy Coleman, New York Times, "Into Their 60s and ‘Into the Woods’," 5 July 2019 Photo by Rita Barros/Getty Images Robert Frank, the Swiss-American photographer whose seminal work The Americans showcased a melancholy and imperfect country, was a documentary artist ahead of his time. Johnny Simon, Quartzy, "Robert Frank exposed an America that Americans weren’t ready to see," 11 Sep. 2019 In exchange for that insight (which hardly qualifies as a spoiler: What love triangle ever turned out happily?) we are treated to pleasurable shocks of irony and melancholy. Allison Adato, EW.com, "Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Cox, and Zawe Ashton command a smart, stripped down Betrayal," 6 Sep. 2019 The result is a surprisingly funny and extremely melancholy hangout film, an elegy for a bygone era that reflects on how all art eventually loses its edge. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Quentin Tarantino Has Made His Best Movie in a Decade," 24 July 2019 Russia apparently has several options, including a melancholy tune originally popularized by an accordian-playing Claymation crocodile. Sarah Todd, Quartzy, "The necessary vulnerability of celebrating your birthday as an adult," 30 Aug. 2019 The 1930 movie adaptation starring the divine Ina Claire refined the formula, dropping Fanny’s untalented brother and sister-in-law, Bert and Kitty, and drawing out the melancholy beneath the frolic. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Royal Family of Broadway,’ This Time in Song," 5 July 2018 Englert’s performance is nuanced and impressive, given that she’s been asked to spend much of her screen time washing things and looking melancholy. Marella Gayla, BostonGlobe.com, "In ‘Them That Follow,’ there will be blood," 7 Aug. 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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Learn More about melancholy

Statistics for melancholy

Last Updated

6 Nov 2019

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
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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