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
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

The combination of archival bounty with Salles' touching analysis has a hypnotic effect, serving up the past plus reflection, garnished with a resonant melancholy about the ebb and flow of uprisings. Robert Abele, latimes.com, "Deeply-felt film essay 'In the Intense Now' observes the fire of revolution," 19 Apr. 2018 It’s hard to imagine any film that captures the breathless melancholy of New York any better than this one. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "9 great movies that explain cinema’s fascination with New York women," 13 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The fall of his hand and the slight inward turn of his feet broadcast vulnerability and melancholy. Vogue, "“Friday I’m in Love”—A Valentine to Robert Smith as the Cure Is Inducted Into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame," 29 Mar. 2019 Rather than sulk and drown himself in his thoughts of melancholy, Greedo, steadfast on being a rap immortal, morphed into an indomitable workhorse. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "03 Greedo on His 20-Year Prison Sentence & Why His Legacy Will Be 'Bigger Than Michael Jackson'," 22 May 2018 The 2019 season figures to mark a rather melancholy passing for the Seahawks, or at least their fans — the first season since 2009 in which not a single founding member of the Legion of Boom is on the roster. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "2019 figures to mark the true transition for Seattle secondary from the Legion of Boom," 19 Feb. 2019 After the melancholy mood of Spring, the mesmerizing painterly florals were a welcome dose of sunshine, enlivening everything from all-weather parkas to Lurex sweaters and lace-trim frocks. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top 10 Shows of New York Fashion Week Fall 2019," 14 Feb. 2019 This part of the film is often a bit melancholy, as Armstrong struggles with Karen's death and how to communicate the risks of his profession with his family. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "First Man is a first-rate movie about America’s most revered astronaut," 12 Oct. 2018 Fionn Whitehead, who played the brooding teen at the center of the story, talked about the importance of having some jokes on set despite the film’s melancholy. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "Emma Thompson Just Wanted to Dance at the New York City Premiere for The Children Act," 12 Sep. 2018 Though the music can sometimes be melancholy, the dazzling dive bar decor (license plates, disco balls, and Christmas lights 365 days a year) will give you all the feels. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Road Trip: 5 Days from New Orleans to Houston," 19 July 2018 The ceremony at Yad Vashem, held after sunset, ushered in one of the most melancholy days on Israel’s calendar. Washington Post, "Netanyahu warns Iran as Israel marks Holocaust Day," 11 Apr. 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 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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Statistics for melancholy

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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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)

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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