Etymology
Advertisement
bile (n.)

"yellow bitter liquid secreted by the liver that aids in digestion," 1660s, from French bile (17c.) "bile," also, informally, "anger," from Latin bilis "fluid secreted by the liver," also in old medicine one of the four humors (also known as choler), thus "bitterness of feeling, peevishness," supposedly caused by excess of bile (especially as black bile, 1797).

The Latin word is of uncertain origin. De Vaan notes apparent cognates for it in British Celtic (Welsh bustl, Middle Cornish bystel, Breton bestl "gall, bile") and writes, "since this word is only found in Italic and Celtic, it is possible that the word is not PIE." But, he adds, if it was borrowed from Celtic into Italic it might be from PIE root *bheid- "to split," which in Germanic has come to meaning "bite," and he notes that "'bile' is a biting substance."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
biliary (adj.)

"pertaining to bile," 1731, from French biliaire, from bile "bile; peevishness" (see bile). The meaning "bilious in mood or temperament" is recorded from 1837.

Related entries & more 
bilirubin (n.)

"reddish pigment found in bile," 1868, from German bilirubin (1864), from bili- "bile" (see bile) + Latin ruber "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy") + -ine (2).

Related entries & more 
atrabilious (adj.)

"affected by melancholy," 1650s, from Latin atra bilis, translating Greek melankholia "black bile" (see melancholy; also compare bile). Atra is fem. of ater "black, dark, gloomy," and is perhaps "blackened by fire," from PIE root *ater- "fire." Related: Atrabiliousness.

Related entries & more 
bilious (adj.)

1540s, "pertaining to bile, biliary," from French bilieux, from Latin biliosus "pertaining to bile," from bilis "bile; peevishness" (see bile). The meaning "testy, peevish, ill-tempered" (as people afflicted with an excess of bile were believed to be) is attested from 1560s. This is the main modern sense in English and French; the more literal meaning being taken up by biliary. Related: Biliousness.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
choler (n.)

late 14c., "bile," as one of the humors, an excess of which was supposed in old medicine to cause irascibility or temper, from Old French colere "bile, anger," from Late Latin cholera "bile" (see cholera).

Related entries & more 
cholinergic (adj.)

1934, from choline, name of a basic substance abundant in bile (coined in German, 1862, from Greek khole "bile;" see cholera) + Greek ergon "work" (from PIE root *werg- "to do") + -ic.

Related entries & more 
gall (n.1)

"bile, liver secretion," Old English galla (Anglian), gealla (West Saxon) "gall, bile," from Proto-Germanic *gallon "bile" (source also of Old Norse gall "gall, bile; sour drink," Old Saxon galle, Old High German galla, German Galle), from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting "green, yellow," and thus "bile, gall." Informal sense of "impudence, boldness" first recorded American English 1882; but meaning "embittered spirit, rancor" is from c. 1200, from the old medicine theory of humors.

Related entries & more 
choleric (adj.)

mid-14c., colrik, "bilious of temperament or complexion," from Old French colerique, from Late Latin cholericus, from Greek kholerikos, from Greek kholera "a type of disease characterized by diarrhea, supposedly caused by bile," from khole "gall, bile," so called for its color, related to khloazein "to be green," khlōros "pale green, greenish-yellow," from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting "green, yellow," and thus "bile, gall." Meaning "easily angered, hot-tempered" is from 1580s (from the supposed effect of excess choler); that of "pertaining to cholera" is from 1834.

Related entries & more 
cholera (n.)

late 14c., "bile, melancholy" (originally the same as choler), from French cholera or directly from Late Latin cholera, from Greek kholera "a type of disease characterized by diarrhea, supposedly caused by bile" (Celsus), from khole "gall, bile," so called for its color, related to khloazein "to be green," khlōros "pale green, greenish-yellow," from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting "green, yellow," and thus "bile, gall." But another sense of khole was "drainpipe, gutter."

Revived 1560s in classical sense as a name for a severe digestive disorder (rarely fatal to adults); and 1704 (especially as cholera morbus), for a highly lethal disease endemic in India, periodically breaking out in global epidemics, especially that reaching Britain and America in the early 1830s.

Related entries & more