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melancholy (n.)

14世纪, melancolie, malencolie, “以沉闷, 阴郁, 易怒, 倾向于无缘无故的暴怒为特征的精神障碍”, 来源于古法语 melancolie “黑胆汁; 不良的性情, 愤怒, 恼怒” (13世纪), 来源于晚期拉丁语 melancholia, 来源于希腊语 melankholia “悲伤”, 字面意思是(过量的) “黑胆汁”, 来源于 melas (属性 melanos) “黑” (见 melano-) + khole “胆汁” (见 cholera).

古代医学将精神抑郁归咎于不自然或过量的“黑胆汁”, 这是脾脏的分泌物, 也是身体的四种“体液” 之一, 它们有助于形成和滋养身体, 除非改变或存在过量. 这个词在中古英语中也被用来表示“忧伤, 阴郁” (由爱情, 失望等带来的), 到14世纪中叶随着对旧有幽默感生理学的信仰在18世纪逐渐消失, 这个词仍然带有“阴郁的心境” 的意义, 特别是当习惯性或长期存在时.

该拉丁词也是西班牙语 melancolia, 意大利语 melancolia, 德语 Melancholie, 丹麦语 melankoli 等的来源. 古法语的变体 malencolie (也是在中英语中) 是由错误的联想 mal “疾病”.

When I go musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.
When I lie waking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so sad as melancholy.
[Robert Burton, from “Anatomy of Melancholy,” 17 Century]

melancholy (adj.)

14世纪末, malencolie, “与黑胆汁混合或由黑胆汁引起的”; 也指人, “闷闷不乐, 阴沉, 悲伤, 受低落情绪影响”, 来自 melancholy (n.). 意思是“表现出悲伤” 是从1590年代开始的; “可悲的, 适合产生悲伤或阴暗” 的意义(对一个事实或事物的状态) 是由1710.

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Definitions of melancholy from WordNet
1
melancholy (n.)
a feeling of thoughtful sadness;
melancholy (n.)
a constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed;
melancholy (n.)
a humor that was once believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen and to cause sadness and melancholy;
Synonyms: black bile
2
melancholy (adj.)
characterized by or causing or expressing sadness;
growing more melancholy every hour
we acquainted him with the melancholy truth
Synonyms: melancholic
melancholy (adj.)
grave or even gloomy in character;
Synonyms: somber / sombre
From wordnet.princeton.edu