Definition of melancholia in US English:



  • 1Deep sadness or gloom; melancholy.

    ‘rain slithered down the windows, encouraging a creeping melancholia’
    • ‘There are long stretches of slow melancholia, set against similarly ambling drama.’
    • ‘Writers invariably describe the flat estuary land as ‘melancholic ‘, but that's because writers bring their melancholia with them.’
    • ‘Amid the torrent of music coming out of the Balkans in the past year or two, this session, recorded in the historic town of Mostar, stands out by virtue of its simplicity and its aura of rapt melancholia.’
    • ‘The Festival was at once fiesta and melancholia.’
    • ‘I bolted over to Boite Noire (only their St-Denis outlet has a copy) to rent it, thinking the plot sounded like a sweet bit of melancholia.’
    • ‘Four Icelandic artists create work exploring aspects of melancholia through animation, drawing, painting, sculpture and video.’
    • ‘Davidson's problem was his winning, fresh-faced toothsomeness; something intelligently offset by his reading of the character as beset by an ancient melancholia.’
    • ‘Some might view this with melancholia - the demise of growth, but to me it is a time of reflection.’
    • ‘The room where she wrote, in between bouts of melancholia and swigs of laudanum, remains above the old entrance to the stables.’
    • ‘Fifth, there is a streak of melancholia in the English imagination, which can easily slide into a condition of fatalism.’
    • ‘No wonder the hamami is both a time of intense celebration but also slight melancholia, for the Japanese have realised that there's a nostalgia to all beauty and a transience in the best moments of life.’
    • ‘Looking for old spanners and fondue sets isn't the main reason for my contemplative melancholia.’
    • ‘The romantics thought that memory bound us in a deep sense of the past, associated with melancholia, but today we think of memory as a mode of re-presentation, and as belonging ever more to the present.’
    • ‘Its overall tone is apparently muted, opening up after a few minutes to affect the entire room, changing the mood and enveloping the spectator in an inescapable and curiously addictive melancholia.’
    • ‘If you're not in the market for a new wall color, or you're not quite ready to risk a bout of autumnal melancholia, it's quite easy to use this deep rose as an accent, especially when you want to create a romantic, intimate mood.’
    • ‘Let me remind you of the now familiar distinction between mourning and melancholia.’
    • ‘Will this gained insight allow him to salvage his relationship with Laura, or will it just plunge him into a deeper, darker malaise of melancholia, dooming him to a life of permanent bachelorhood?’
    • ‘Contrasting greatly with the often-brooding melancholia of Tristeza, LaValle manages to inject an uplifting aspect into his solo work.’
    • ‘Also you do tend to suffer from a wee bit of melancholia and you quite enjoy it.’
    • ‘It's easy to overdo the lushness in Rachmaninov's music for piano and orchestra, even easier to dive into the melancholia of the Russian ‘soul’.’
    desolation, sadness, pensiveness, woe, sorrow
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1dated A mental condition marked by persistent depression and ill-founded fears.
      • ‘He refused to take on patients who were psychotic; that is, who were suffering from schizophrenia or from the most severe type of melancholia (depressive illness).’
      • ‘All the identified patients had psychotic illnesses: mania and melancholia, general paresis, and post-encephalitic states.’
      • ‘Meyer has written of the familiar experience of many artists who, upon completion of their work, feel empty and depressed, like women who suffer post-partum emptiness and melancholia.’
      • ‘Lead poisoning was originally referred to as ‘Saturnism’, because the physical ailments of ingesting small quantities of lead include fatigue, depression and melancholia.’
      • ‘Asylum doctors divided mental illness into four categories: mania (with an important subcategory, monomania), melancholia, dementia, and idiocy.’
      hopelessness, desperation, distress, anguish, pain, unhappiness
      View synonyms


Late Middle English (denoting black bile): from late Latin (see melancholy).