Definition of bilious in English:



  • 1Affected by or associated with nausea or vomiting.

    ‘a bilious attack’
    • ‘Any child presenting with bilious vomiting should be presumed to have a bowel obstruction.’
    • ‘However, the child did have some spitting up and now has frankly bilious vomiting, being green in color.’
    • ‘Great claims were made for the beneficial effects of the Streatham waters, which were said to cure all manner of ills, including rheumatism, gout, jaundice, bilious attacks and even blindness.’
    • ‘Sixteen years after the Surgeon General made fat public enemy No. 1, the American consumer - fatter than ever in a low-fat world - has turned a bilious eye on foods like bread and pasta.’
    • ‘After a few hours of postnatal life, bowel distension becomes remarkable because of swallowed air and causes bilious vomiting.’
    • ‘If you suspect any kind of intestinal obstruction because your child has bilious vomiting, a swollen abdomen, or bloody stools, take her to the emergency room immediately.’
    • ‘Lewis learned that Clark's bowels had not moved for several days and that he felt ‘somewhat bilious.’’
    • ‘When a neonate develops bilious vomiting, one should suspect a surgical condition.’
    • ‘Now, I'm no fan of people chewing gum (especially with open mouths - if I wanted to see the contents of your mouth, trust me, I'd become a dentist) but even I'm not quite as bilious about the activity as this bloke.’
    • ‘After playing basketball, he developed bilious vomiting and presented to our emergency department.’
    • ‘Umbilical drainage containing bilious or fecal material should prompt a work-up.’
    • ‘At the risk of provoking a bilious attack in Professor Bunyip, we badly need a large injection of what Phillip Adams' mate John Embling calls ‘tough love’.’
    • ‘Even in cases positively diagnosed as typhus, surgeons also recorded bilious vomiting, diarrhea, and bowel hemorrhage, which are all symptoms of typhoid and remittent fever.’
    • ‘Abdominal distention with bilious vomiting is observed within the first 24 hours after birth.’
    • ‘Caraway and fennel seeds in food were used to cure a bilious body of ‘windy colic’.’
    • ‘When she finally flips over to the darkside and channels gravely voiced barmaids (or a close facsimile thereof), the call goes out for a preacher who will drive Beelzebub and his bilious body odors away.’
    • ‘I really struggled as well, particularly in my 20s, because of the swellings and the debilitating bilious attacks.’
    • ‘Two day old full term male with bilious vomiting and a palpable right lower quadrant mass.’
    • ‘The usual onset is 10 to 12 days of age, with presenting symptoms of gastric retention, bilious vomiting, ileus, abdominal distention and bloody stools.’
    nauseous, sick, queasy, nauseated, green about the gills, liverish
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    1. 1.1 (of a colour) lurid or sickly.
      ‘a bilious yellow hue’
      • ‘When I first met Kevin, he was wearing his favourite blazer, a threadbare garment that fitted him ill, but you could spot him across the valley for it is a shockingly bright pink, accented with bilious green and yellow splotches.’
      • ‘I would never send my hypothetical daughter to a co-ed primary school, boys that age are bilious green minions of evil.’
      • ‘It might be a pool of coloured light that takes off onto a bravura progression through garish washes of colour - a chase scene through the industrial port-side lit as a progression through hot orange-red, a cold hazy blue and a bilious green.’
      • ‘Overall, though, this is a fine car, and so long as you opt for a colour less garish than the test version's bilious yellow, it offers a discreet way to have some motoring enjoyment.’
      • ‘Simultaneously rough and lyrical, her paintings are jagged emotional landscapes in colors that range from earthy to bilious, saturated to saccharine.’
      • ‘On the walls, liverish or bilious colours such as some shades of green can be difficult, as can very bright fluorescent shades.’
      • ‘Bad scrambled eggs are beyond the pale: insipid, pale lemon yellow fading to a bilious grey - granular, curdling or lying in a puddle of whey-like liquid.’
      • ‘Since childhood, I've been the carsick passenger whose stomach churns in nauseous waves that turn my face a bilious green.’
      • ‘Now, 25 years on, she is back and dressed to kill in bilious green polyester, swaying across the lounge to Donna Summer as she arranges the cheese-and-pineapple sticks for her guests.’
      • ‘The first hour on Wednesday saw a procession of men dressing in bibs of a bilious yellow passing calmly and majestically behind the bowler's arm.’
      • ‘Ten years ago, Nick could be seen sporting a shocking ranged of jumpers that range from violent pink to bilious yellow.’
      • ‘On Thursday afternoon two young fans, led by their proud dads, were seen emerging from the Celtic superstore at Parkhead, clad in the rather bilious yellow away strip.’
      • ‘He went for a triple hair colouration - passionate pink, day-glo yellow and bilious green.’
      • ‘All the big noses and bilious hues of the two worlds seemed to have made appointments there.’
      • ‘Saul's bilious colors, snaking black lines and bulbous forms contribute to the painting's forceful tension.’
      • ‘The colors - simmered shades of red, yellow and blue - are more urban decay than Mondrian, turning up as rusty orange, bilious yellow, bruised blue, teal blue and off-red, with smears of black and white.’
      lurid, garish, loud, violent
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  • 2Spiteful; bad-tempered.

    ‘his bilious temperament’
    • ‘Again, the musical backing is just as thrillingly ugly and grotesque as ‘Ladies’; Kurt Weill would be proud of this jarring burlesque scene, the bilious portrait of corruption in all its glory.’
    • ‘Trent's bilious name-calling, vows of revenge, and cheap martyrdom are no deeper than those of any car-less teenager, but his colossal production crystallized his complaints.’
    • ‘During the mid-50s, facing a bilious Senate, the comic-book industry had agreed to censor itself, guaranteeing parents that their books would conform to basic moral standards.’
    • ‘They should be able to make the kind of radical, irreverent cinema that Anderson himself created in a biting, bilious state of the nation diatribe such as Britannia Hospital.’
    • ‘Even the street organs put me in a happy mood; I owe many a page to them - written when I should else have been sunk in bilious gloom.’
    • ‘I would like to wish the Minister a speedy recovery from his recent bilious bout, where he seemed to be doing his utmost to demoralise rather than to uplift those who have been entrusted to his responsibility.’
    • ‘This is not Ayckbourn's first assault on the sickness of the celebrity culture: Man of the Moment was an even more bilious attack on media glorification of villains.’
    • ‘But what is striking is the bilious inclusiveness of its attack on a machine-driven society that not only exploits its workers but robs them of their souls.’
    • ‘They defended their ever more bilious attacks on the establishment in all its guises by claiming that their new obsession was standing up for the individual's rights against big business and organised labour.’
    • ‘A few years ago, the bilious 1990s backlash against single parents living on crumbling estates - like my sister - was slowly receding.’
    • ‘So if there are any splenetic motorists or bilious cyclists out there thinking of penning an angry letter to the Evening Press, listen up.’
    • ‘The stomach pains persisted, becoming more debilitating as his fame grew. ‘They're good for my anger,’ he once quipped, though it seems more likely that, like his bilious songs, they were simply another symptom of that same anger.’
    • ‘He is particularly bilious toward academics, repeatedly making claims about their narrow-mindedness.’
    • ‘You've run your usual bilious attack upon me and then tried to support by running a transcript of a Mark Latham interview.’
    • ‘May can certainly write, but needs to decide whether he wants to write bilious comedy of the kind that might go out in the post-11 pm slot on Radio 4 or a real play where the characters are more than vehicles for his ready wit.’
    • ‘He felt nauseous and depressed, awash on a stormy, bilious sea of confusion, misunderstanding, and despair.’
    • ‘Anyone thinking their children will be amused, thrilled, or humored by this bilious blob of scarab bile needs to rip out their internal organs, stuff onions up their nose, and apply liberal amounts of gauze to their vacuous person.’
    • ‘The only question is how bilious and fanatical.’
    • ‘In any case, in its bilious doctrinal carping, the editorial was quite exemplary, a sinister, jargon-ridden spasm of Stalinesque nastiness.’
    • ‘For instance, his bilious attack on the New York Review of Books.’
    bad-tempered, irritable, irascible, tetchy, testy, grumpy, grouchy, crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, ill-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, peevish, fractious, disagreeable, pettish, crabbed, crabby, waspish, prickly, peppery, touchy, scratchy, crusty, splenetic, shrewish, short-tempered, hot-tempered, quick-tempered, dyspeptic, choleric, liverish, cross-grained
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  • 3Physiology
    Relating to bile.

    • ‘This patient was a 5 month old male with a 5 day history of recurrent vomiting and abdominal distension, who now presents with a 1 day history of bilious emesis and passing currant jelly stools.’
    • ‘Immediately after birth the patient developed bilious emesis.’
    • ‘The clinical presentation of low obstruction is late bilious vomiting and generalized abdominal distension.’
    • ‘A nasogastric tube obtained bilious fluid that was hemoccult positive.’
    • ‘Abdominal distension, delayed onset of bilious vomiting, and failure to pass meconium.’
    • ‘This was a 1 day old full term female that became dusky with the first feeding, after which 40 cc of bilious fluid was aspirated from her stomach via nasogastric tube.’
    • ‘One day old full term female with bilious aspirates.’
    • ‘Seven month old female with non bilious and bilious vomiting.’
    • ‘She developed bilious emesis and bilious aspirates were subsequently returned from her nasogastric tube.’
    • ‘The lining of the esophagus continuously exposed to acid or bilious alkaline or both can change its type and become more susceptible to cancerous changes.’
    • ‘Parital obstruction can also be caused by Ladd's bands, abnormal fibrous bands obstructing the duodenum, which can cause bilious vomiting and abdominal distension.’
    • ‘After delivery the child was found to have a distended abdomen and a nasogastric tube was placed and 100 cc of bilious material was aspirated from the stomach’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘biliary’): from Latin biliosus, from bilis ‘bile’.