Definition of melancholy in US English:

melancholy

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 center of his music lies a profound melancholy and nostalgia’
    • ‘A morose mood of deep melancholy has descended upon me this afternoon.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sad melancholy drifted through the speakers, and the two of them sat in silence as the song floated through the room.’
    • ‘I'm sitting here almost in tears, drowning in a sad mixture of melancholy, confusion, hopelessness, and self-pity.’
    • ‘His music is said to have a deep, reflective melancholy.’
    • ‘No one who has heard Horowitz in Traumerei could fail to be touched by its heartbreaking sincerity and reflective melancholy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A slide guitar is used on some of the tracks, while the songs maintain a definite tone of melancholy and sadness.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was about this time that Beethoven accepted that his deafness was permanent, causing despair beyond melancholy.’
    • ‘His spacious tempo and the rich, focused tone of the violins found the deep Russian melancholy that permeates the Adagio cantabile.’
    • ‘The second movement's deep melancholy is breathtakingly beautiful.’
    • ‘This is a comedy permeated throughout by the eerie melancholy of sunset.’
    • ‘Music can impart in us a feeling of melancholy and sorrow, rapture and euphoria.’
    • ‘Serrand does a remarkable job of finding the humanity in these characters, even when emphasizing their desperation and 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.’
    • ‘But the cloud of depression, of a deep sadness and melancholy, hung over our home.’
    • ‘Both herbs seem to have beneficial effect on the emotions, heart and for sadness, melancholy and sadness.’
    • ‘He would never see his homeland again and that sadness, coupled with the natural melancholy of his Russian soul, never quite left him.’
    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
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sanguine relates to air, choleric to fire, melancholy to earth and phlegmatic to water.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And she's just encountered the old blood groupings, the four humours: sanguine, choler, phlegm, melancholy.’

adjective

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

    ‘she felt a little melancholy’
    ‘the dog has a melancholy expression’
    • ‘Their melancholy expressions are at odds with the theatrical gaiety of their attire.’
    • ‘His expression narrowed and didn't return to its normal melancholy state until she disappeared behind the doorway.’
    • ‘He is crude, frequently drunk, and often melancholy, and he feels resigned to the disappointing course his once-promising life has taken.’
    • ‘But Angela suffers from an ambiguous, melancholy discontent.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now she couldn't look back and remember those times without forcing back tears, or battling a melancholy wave of sadness.’
    • ‘It made the dusty, dismal main street of Bleak seem somewhat melancholy.’
    • ‘Even if blue was normally a melancholy color, Cassie felt happy.’
    • ‘The room was dimly lit, with only a reading lamp casting its melancholy glow over the elegantly decorated room.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘Through blurred, melancholy eyes she looked at the ruins around her that had once been the palace in which she had served.’
    • ‘Vaguely, I could feel a smile creeping back to my melancholy expression.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A knock on his cabin door interrupted Captain Valentine's melancholy day spent in isolated depression.’
    • ‘His was a gloomy and melancholy disposition and he never found relief outside his work.’
    • ‘Of course, the name game is just one aspect of the melancholy fact expressed by the cliche ‘fame is fleeting.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A lot of times when we play in countries where English isn't the first language we get accused of being melancholy and miserable.’
    • ‘When she sees or hears of injustice, the normally happy girl becomes so melancholy and dejected that it worries others.’
    sad, sorrowful, desolate, melancholic, mournful, lugubrious, gloomy, pensive
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    1. 1.1 Causing or expressing sadness; depressing.
      ‘the study makes melancholy if instructive reading’
      • ‘The instrument's melancholy tones complement the often sombre frontier folk songs.’
      • ‘Many of them explain in melancholy tones that they don't see how they can keep their farms and their lifestyle going much longer.’
      • ‘His score is a joy to listen to despite its frequently melancholy tone.’
      • ‘Sweetened by distance, the melancholy tones of a shepherd's bagpipe drifted on the breeze.’
      • ‘The other instruments go along with the oboe's often melancholy sound.’
      • ‘Once you've finished this wonderful book you're haunted by the melancholy tone of this solitary, meditative figure.’
      • ‘She hung up while Eden still held on, listening to the melancholy sound of the dial tone.’
      • ‘The Slave Dancer is written through Jessie's eyes, and projects a depressing, melancholy mood.’
      • ‘I feel that musically, melancholy tones are the most comforting.’
      • ‘Ferik lost her control and hung her head, murmuring in a dead melancholy tone,’
      • ‘The door opened and there he was, complete with a melancholy smile and apologetic eyes.’
      • ‘The book is a bit relentless in its melancholy tone, with few moments of joy or triumph for the characters.’
      • ‘Sheard certainly has an odd, melancholy stage presence, especially when belting out some extraordinarily mournful show tunes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘There's a melancholy tone to the proceedings, a funeral solemnity, in what is supposed to be a summer sci-fi action blockbuster.’
      • ‘Lead singer, Mathew Booi's melancholy tone is appropriate here, just as it is almost too much to take everywhere else.’
      • ‘As she headed to Wyndemere, Nikolas' melancholy tone and his heartfelt words played inside her mind.’
      • ‘It gives the story a melancholy tone, as if it's always dusk or autumn.’

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

/ˈmelənˌkälē//ˈmɛlənˌkɑli/