Definition of melancholy in English:

melancholy

noun

mass noun
  • 1A feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.

    ‘an air of melancholy surrounded him’
    ‘he had an ability to convey a sense of deep melancholy and yearning through much of his work’
    ‘at the centre of his music lies a profound melancholy and nostalgia’
    • ‘Kathy, on the other hand, is in a haze of anxiety and melancholy so deep that she, a housekeeper, can't even bring herself to take care of the place while she lives in it.’
    • ‘But the cloud of depression, of a deep sadness and melancholy, hung over our home.’
    • ‘This is a comedy permeated throughout by the eerie melancholy of sunset.’
    • ‘His spacious tempo and the rich, focused tone of the violins found the deep Russian melancholy that permeates the Adagio cantabile.’
    • ‘Serrand does a remarkable job of finding the humanity in these characters, even when emphasizing their desperation and melancholy.’
    • ‘Music can impart in us a feeling of melancholy and sorrow, rapture and euphoria.’
    • ‘A morose mood of deep melancholy has descended upon me this afternoon.’
    • ‘A lot of times his lyrics remind me of being a little kid and I really like the sadness and melancholy these songs evoke of that time.’
    • ‘He would never see his homeland again and that sadness, coupled with the natural melancholy of his Russian soul, never quite left him.’
    • ‘He had abandoned that deep melancholy and sadness, and he felt himself much lighter and unencumbered.’
    • ‘The prominent string section combined with Laronge's stirring vocals contribute to the group's melancholy, sometimes chilling sound.’
    • ‘I'm sitting here almost in tears, drowning in a sad mixture of melancholy, confusion, hopelessness, and self-pity.’
    • ‘Both herbs seem to have beneficial effect on the emotions, heart and for sadness, melancholy and sadness.’
    • ‘A slide guitar is used on some of the tracks, while the songs maintain a definite tone of melancholy and sadness.’
    • ‘The second movement's deep melancholy is breathtakingly beautiful.’
    • ‘It was about this time that Beethoven accepted that his deafness was permanent, causing despair beyond melancholy.’
    • ‘She sings about her roguish paramours with a strange mixture of melancholy, bitterness and nostalgia, leading one to question whether these kinds of men really exist today.’
    • ‘The sad melancholy drifted through the speakers, and the two of them sat in silence as the song floated through the room.’
    • ‘No one who has heard Horowitz in Traumerei could fail to be touched by its heartbreaking sincerity and reflective melancholy.’
    • ‘His music is said to have a deep, reflective melancholy.’
    desolation, sadness, pensiveness, woe, sorrow, melancholia
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1
      another term for melancholia (as a mental condition)
      • ‘A list of patients admitted during the hospital's first years shows that reasons for admission included hysterick disorders, bloody flux, tertian ague, and melancholy.’
      • ‘The psychologists remind us that hopelessness is the seedbed of melancholy and destructiveness.’
    2. 1.2historical
      another term for black bile
      • ‘Sanguine relates to air, choleric to fire, melancholy to earth and phlegmatic to water.’
      • ‘And she's just encountered the old blood groupings, the four humours: sanguine, choler, phlegm, melancholy.’
      • ‘By the sixteenth century hypochondria had become an aspect of melancholy and was associated especially with the humour of black bile and with the spleen, the organ that was supposed to clear black bile from the body.’
      • ‘So if you've got an excess of black bile, you're melancholy; if there's a lot of blood running through you, you're sanguine.’

adjective

  • 1Having a feeling of melancholy; sad and pensive.

    ‘she felt a little melancholy’
    ‘a dark, melancholy young man with deep-set eyes’
    • ‘Now she couldn't look back and remember those times without forcing back tears, or battling a melancholy wave of sadness.’
    • ‘It's always melancholy saying goodbye, but I know he'll be back soon - in fact, only 2 weeks from tomorrow he'll be here again!’
    • ‘His was a gloomy and melancholy disposition and he never found relief outside his work.’
    • ‘Through blurred, melancholy eyes she looked at the ruins around her that had once been the palace in which she had served.’
    • ‘His expression narrowed and didn't return to its normal melancholy state until she disappeared behind the doorway.’
    • ‘But in spite of his melancholy bearing and despondent expression, there were few who could say that they had ever seen a man of more distinguished presence.’
    • ‘But Angela suffers from an ambiguous, melancholy discontent.’
    • ‘I really enjoyed it, but it put me in a melancholy mood for the rest of the evening: quite a challenging film (there was a lot of nervous laughter in the audience).’
    • ‘It made the dusty, dismal main street of Bleak seem somewhat melancholy.’
    • ‘The room was dimly lit, with only a reading lamp casting its melancholy glow over the elegantly decorated room.’
    • ‘Their melancholy expressions are at odds with the theatrical gaiety of their attire.’
    • ‘Vaguely, I could feel a smile creeping back to my melancholy expression.’
    • ‘A knock on his cabin door interrupted Captain Valentine's melancholy day spent in isolated depression.’
    • ‘When she sees or hears of injustice, the normally happy girl becomes so melancholy and dejected that it worries others.’
    • ‘A lot of times when we play in countries where English isn't the first language we get accused of being melancholy and miserable.’
    • ‘He is crude, frequently drunk, and often melancholy, and he feels resigned to the disappointing course his once-promising life has taken.’
    • ‘At any rate, I hope that all people, especially those who are in a melancholy frame of mind in this global village, will get a chance to dine on all kinds of delicacies of the season during this lonely autumn.’
    • ‘Instead of creating an ice-cold emptiness, as some bands would have done, Nada Surf has created a warm and sweetly melancholy expression of this feeling.’
    • ‘Even if blue was normally a melancholy color, Cassie felt happy.’
    • ‘Of course, the name game is just one aspect of the melancholy fact expressed by the cliche ‘fame is fleeting.’’
    sad, sorrowful, desolate, melancholic, mournful, lugubrious, gloomy, pensive
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    1. 1.1 Causing or expressing sadness; depressing.
      ‘the melancholy tone of her writing’
      • ‘It gives the story a melancholy tone, as if it's always dusk or autumn.’
      • ‘At such moments, he is on Greenhow Hill, reliving that painful time, and his narrative is marked by a melancholy tone that serves to underscore his present sadness.’
      • ‘The door opened and there he was, complete with a melancholy smile and apologetic eyes.’
      • ‘The instrument's melancholy tones complement the often sombre frontier folk songs.’
      • ‘I feel that musically, melancholy tones are the most comforting.’
      • ‘There's a melancholy tone to the proceedings, a funeral solemnity, in what is supposed to be a summer sci-fi action blockbuster.’
      • ‘His score is a joy to listen to despite its frequently melancholy tone.’
      • ‘The rest of the album then unfolds in suitably impressive fashion, taking in everything from innocent desires, to melancholy tales of loss and regret, without ever bringing the listener down with it.’
      • ‘Sheard certainly has an odd, melancholy stage presence, especially when belting out some extraordinarily mournful show tunes.’
      • ‘Ferik lost her control and hung her head, murmuring in a dead melancholy tone,’
      • ‘The Slave Dancer is written through Jessie's eyes, and projects a depressing, melancholy mood.’
      • ‘She hung up while Eden still held on, listening to the melancholy sound of the dial tone.’
      • ‘The book is a bit relentless in its melancholy tone, with few moments of joy or triumph for the characters.’
      • ‘Many of them explain in melancholy tones that they don't see how they can keep their farms and their lifestyle going much longer.’
      • ‘Once you've finished this wonderful book you're haunted by the melancholy tone of this solitary, meditative figure.’
      • ‘As she headed to Wyndemere, Nikolas' melancholy tone and his heartfelt words played inside her mind.’
      • ‘Burne-Jones evokes a melancholy mood that differs from the celebratory tone of the London copy by means of the nocturnal settings, the dark colouring and the crouching attitudes of the figures.’
      • ‘Sweetened by distance, the melancholy tones of a shepherd's bagpipe drifted on the breeze.’
      • ‘Lead singer, Mathew Booi's melancholy tone is appropriate here, just as it is almost too much to take everywhere else.’
      • ‘The other instruments go along with the oboe's often melancholy sound.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French melancolie, via late Latin from Greek melankholia, from melas, melan- ‘black’ + kholē ‘bile’, an excess of which was formerly believed to cause depression.

Pronunciation

melancholy

/ˈmɛlənkəli/