One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Melancholy or irritable.‘an atrabilious old man’
bad-tempered, ill-tempered, ill-humoured, angry, wrathful, cross, peevish, petulant, pettish, irritable, irascible, cantankerous, choleric, dyspeptic, testy, tetchy, snappish, waspish, crotchety, crabby, crabbed, querulous, resentful, rancorous, bilious, sour, bitter, acid, liverishView synonyms
- ‘The atrabilious maladies to which artists were supposedly vulnerable included lovesickness and plague.’
- ‘He was proud, morose, and atrabilious; he rarely answered letters; he showed contempt for all who differed from his views and reacted violently to criticism.’
- ‘Serena refused to invite the atrabilious Mr. Morne, who could spoil a party just by opening his mouth.’
- ‘The atrabilious temperament or melancholia is, according to Aristotle, a natural disposition in which there is a preponderance of black bile over the other humours.’
- ‘It is beneficial to atrabilious persons.’
- ‘When the atrabilious humour is in too much abundance melancholia, characterized by aversion to food, despondency, sleeplessness, irritability, restlessness and depression could result.’
Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘affected by black bile’, one of the four supposed cardinal humours of the body, believed to cause melancholy): from Latin atra bilis ‘black bile’, translation of Greek melankholia ‘melancholy’, + -ious.
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