What does melancholy mean?

Definitions for melancholy
ˈmɛl ənˌkɒl imelan·cho·ly

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word melancholy.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. melancholynoun

    a feeling of thoughtful sadness

  2. melancholynoun

    a constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed

  3. black bile, melancholyadjective

    a humor that was once believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen and to cause sadness and melancholy

  4. melancholy, melancholicadjective

    characterized by or causing or expressing sadness

    "growing more melancholy every hour"; "her melancholic smile"; "we acquainted him with the melancholy truth"

  5. somber, sombre, melancholyadjective

    grave or even gloomy in character

    "solemn and mournful music"; "a suit of somber black"; "a somber mood"


  1. melancholynoun

    Black bile, formerly thought to be one of the four "cardinal humours" of animal bodies.

  2. melancholynoun

    Great sadness or depression, especially of a thoughtful or introspective nature.

  3. melancholyadjective

    Affected with great sadness or depression.

  4. Etymology: From μελαγχολία, from μέλας, μελαν- + χολή. Compare the Latin atra bilis.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Melancholyadjective

    Etymology: melancolique, French.

    Think of all our miseries
    But as some melancholy dream, which has awak’d us
    To the renewing of our joys. John Denham, Sophy.

    If in the melancholy shades below,
    The flames of friends and lovers cease to glow;
    Yet mine shall sacred last, mine undecay’d,
    Burn on through death, and animate my shade. Alexander Pope.

    How now, sweet Frank; art thou melancholy. William Shakespeare.

    He observes Lamech more melancholy than usual, and imagines it to be from a suspicion he has of his wife Adah, whom he loved. John Locke.


    1.A disease, supposed to proceed from a redundance of black bile; but it is better known to arise from too heavy and too viscid blood: its cure is in evacuation, nervous medicines, and powerful stimuli. John Quincy

    Etymology: melancolie, Fr. from μέλανς and χολη.

    I have neither the scholar’s melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician’s, which is fantastical; nor the courtier’s, which is proud; nor the soldier’s, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer’s, which is politick; nor the lady’s, which is nice; nor the lover’s, which is all these; but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness. William Shakespeare, As you like it.

    He protested unto them, that he had only been to seek solitary places by an extreme melancholy that had possessed him. Philip Sidney, b. ii.

    All these gifts come from him; and if we murmur here, we may at the next melancholy be troubled that God did not make us angels. Jeremy Taylor, holy Living.

    This melancholy flatters, but unmans you;
    What is it else but penury of soul,
    A lazy frost, a numbness of the mind? Dryden.



    Melancholy is a state of prolonged sadness, low mood, or a general feeling of being emotionally down. It is typically characterized by introspection, a sense of heaviness or gloom, and a decrease in interest or pleasure in usual activities. Melancholy can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by symptoms such as listlessness, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and negative thoughts or feelings of hopelessness.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Melancholynoun

    depression of spirits; a gloomy state continuing a considerable time; deep dejection; gloominess

  2. Melancholynoun

    great and continued depression of spirits, amounting to mental unsoundness; melancholia

  3. Melancholynoun

    pensive maditation; serious thoughtfulness

  4. Melancholynoun

    ill nature

  5. Melancholyadjective

    depressed in spirits; dejected; gloomy dismal

  6. Melancholyadjective

    producing great evil and grief; causing dejection; calamitous; afflictive; as, a melancholy event

  7. Melancholyadjective

    somewhat deranged in mind; having the jugment impaired

  8. Melancholyadjective

    favorable to meditation; somber

  9. Etymology: [OE. melancolie, F. mlancolie, L. melancholia, fr. Gr. ; me`las, me`lanos, black + gall, bile. See Malice, and 1st Gall.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Melancholy

    mel′an-kol-i, n. continued depression of spirits: dejection: a gloomy state of mind causing groundless fears: (Milt.) pensiveness.—adj. gloomy: producing grief.—n. Melanchō′lia, a form of insanity, in which there is continued depression or pain of mind.—adjs. Melanchol′ic, Melanchō′lious, affected with, or caused by, melancholy: dejected: mournful. [Through Fr.,—L.,—Gr. melancholiamelan, black, cholē, bile.]

Editors Contribution

  1. melancholy

    You describe something that you see or hear as melancholy when it gives you an intense feeling of sadness. If someone feels or looks melancholy, they feel or look very sad.sadness that lasts for a long period of time, often without any obvious reason.feeling or expressing sadness;a feeling of sadness and of being without hope;Sadness and unhappiness,depression,grief;A feeling or spell of dismally low spirits:blues, dejection, despondence, despondency, doldrums, dolefulness, downheartedness, dumps, dysphoria, funk, gloom, glumness, heavy-heartedness, mope (used in plural), mournfulness,unhappiness.In low spirits:blue,depressed, desolate, dispirited, down, downcast, downhearted, dull, dysphoric, gloomy, heavy-hearted, low, melancholic,spiritless, tristful, unhappy, wistful.suggestive or expressive of sadness or depression of mind or spirit; causing or tending to cause sadness or depression of mind or spirit : DISMAL; depressed in spirits : DEJECTED, SAD;blue devils,desolation, despond,disconsolateness, dispiritedness,dreariness, down in the dumps (informal), forlornness,gloominess, heartsickness, joylessness, miserableness, mopes,oppression,sorrowfulness;Idiom: down at the mouth.Tending to cause sadness or low spirits:blue, cheerless, depressing,dispiriting,joyless,down,miserable, moody,sombre, woeful, glum, mournful,despondent,lugubrious, pensive, sorrowful, disconsolate,doleful, heavy-hearted, woebegone, down in the mouth, low-spirited depression, misery,sorrow, woe, the hump (Brit. informal),low spirits,pensiveness,a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged;sober thoughtfulness;affected with, characterized by, or showing melancholy;depressed,causing melancholy or sadness; saddening;soberly thoughtful;Great sadness or depression, especially of a thoughtful or introspective nature.

    Somber and laconic can be eliminated right away—there are too many exclamation points for the work to be melancholy and laid back in the way those words suggest.

    Submitted by anonymous on June 14, 2020  

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How to pronounce melancholy?

How to say melancholy in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of melancholy in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of melancholy in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of melancholy in a Sentence

  1. John Milton:

    Sweet bird, that shun the noise of folly, most musical, most melancholy!

  2. Aimee Osbourne:

    It’s been a frustrating journey, a lot of trial and error. For years it felt like I was swimming in the ocean, all by Aimee Osbourne, i’ve lived through a lot of dark environments one way or another while growing up and that has influenced my songwriting. And, yes, I suppose melancholy is a running theme. [ But ] I never had to battle for my identity. I have always been me.

  3. Czon:

    I'm like that, I love the melancholy, with all fragility, the beauty in the ugly.Can only create in chaos and darkness.

  4. Jill Soloway:

    When the time came to bring the' Transparent' journey to a close, it was clear that saying goodbye to Maura Pfefferman was our path forward, in this musical finale, we dramatize the death of Maura Pfefferman in an odyssey of comedy and melancholy told through the joyful prism of melody and dance.

  5. Tony Oppedisano:

    His life had changed so drastically, he was not accustomed to not being in the best of health. That bothered him. And then not being able to spend time out in public - that took a big chunk out of his world. He was at peace on stage performing. And in reflecting on his life, he realized, ‘This is what the rest of my life is going to be.’ He was in a melancholy place really.

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"melancholy." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 29 Feb. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/melancholy>.

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    take away to an undisclosed location against their will and usually in order to extract a ransom
    • A. efface
    • B. cleave
    • C. transpire
    • D. abduct

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