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 temperament or melancholia is, according to Aristotle, a natural disposition in which there is a preponderance of black bile over the other humours.’
- ‘The atrabilious maladies to which artists were supposedly vulnerable included lovesickness and plague.’
- ‘When the atrabilious humour is in too much abundance melancholia, characterized by aversion to food, despondency, sleeplessness, irritability, restlessness and depression could result.’
- ‘Serena refused to invite the atrabilious Mr. Morne, who could spoil a party just by opening his mouth.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘It is beneficial to atrabilious persons.’
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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