Etymology
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melancholy (n.)

c. 1300, melancolie, malencolie, "mental disorder characterized by sullenness, gloom, irritability, and propensity to causeless and violent anger," from Old French melancolie "black bile; ill disposition, anger, annoyance" (13c.), from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholia "sadness," literally (excess of) "black bile," from melas (genitive melanos) "black" (see melano-) + khole "bile" (see cholera).

Old medicine attributed mental depression to unnatural or excess "black bile," a secretion of the spleen and one of the body's four "humors," which help form and nourish the body unless altered or present in excessive amounts. The word also was used in Middle English for "sorrow, gloom" (brought on by love, disappointment, etc.), by mid-14c. As belief in the old physiology of humors faded out in the 18c. the word remained with a sense of "a gloomy state of mind," particularly when habitual or prolonged.

The Latin word also is the source of Spanish melancolia, Italian melancolia, German Melancholie, Danish melankoli, etc. Old French variant malencolie (also in Middle English) is by false association with mal "sickness."

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," 17c.]
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melancholy (adj.)

late 14c., malencolie, "mixed with or caused by black bile;" also, of persons, "sullen, gloomy, sad, affected by low spirits," from melancholy (n.). Meaning "expressive of sadness" is from 1590s; sense of "deplorable, fitted to produce sadness or gloom" (of a fact or state of things) is by 1710.

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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.
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melancholia (n.)

"mental condition characterized by great depression, sluggishness, and aversion to mental action," 1690s, from Modern Latin melancholia (see melancholy).

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melancholic (adj.)

late 14c., "containing black bile," a physiological sense now obsolete, from melancholy + -ic, or else from from Late Latin melancholicus, from Greek melankholikos "choleric," from melankholia "sadness," literally "(excess of) black bile" (see melancholy). Of persons or temperaments, "affected with melancholia, habitually gloomy," by 1789. The earlier adjective formation in Middle English was melancholian (mid-14c.), and melancholiac (mid-19c.) also was tried.

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*ghel- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to shine;" it forms words for "gold" (the "bright" metal), words denoting colors, especially "yellow" and "green," also "bile, gall," for its color, and a large group of Germanic gl- words having to do with shining and glittering and, perhaps, sliding. Buck says the interchange of words for yellow and green is "perhaps because they were applied to vegetation like grass, cereals, etc., which changed from green to yellow."

It forms all or part of: arsenic; Chloe; chloral; chloride; chlorinate; chlorine; chloro-; chloroform; chlorophyll; chloroplast; cholecyst; choler; cholera; choleric; cholesterol; cholinergic; Cloris; gall (n.1) "bile, liver secretion;" gild; glad; glance; glare; glass; glaze; glazier; gleam; glee; glib; glide; glimmer; glimpse; glint; glissade; glisten; glister; glitch; glitter; glitzy; gloaming; gloat; gloss (n.1) "glistening smoothness, luster;" glow; glower; gold; guilder; jaundice; melancholic; melancholy; yellow; zloty.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit harih "yellow, tawny yellow," hiranyam "gold;" Avestan zari "yellow;" Old Persian daraniya-, Avestan zaranya- "gold;"  Greek khlōros "greenish-yellow color,"  kholos "bile, gall, wrath;"  Latin helvus "yellowish, bay," Gallo-Latin gilvus "light bay;" Lithuanian geltonas "yellow;" Old Church Slavonic zlutu, Polish żółty, Russian zeltyj "yellow;" Latin galbus "greenish-yellow," fellis "bile, gall;" Lithuanian žalias "green," želvas "greenish," tulžis "bile;" Old Church Slavonic zelenu, Polish zielony, Russian zelenyj "green;" Old Irish glass, Welsh and Breton glas "green," also "gray, blue;" Old English galla "gall, bile," geolu, geolwe, German gelb, Old Norse gulr "yellow;" Old Church Slavonic zlato, Russian zoloto, Old English gold, Gothic gulþ "gold;" Old English glæs "glass; a glass vessel."

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hippish (adj.)
"somewhat depressed, moping," 1706, from hip (n.) "melancholy," a variant of hyp, short for hypochondria.
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hypochondriac (adj.)
1590s, "pertaining to the hypochondria," also "afflicted with melancholy," from French hypocondriaque (16c.), from Medieval Latin hypochondriacus, from Greek hypokhondriakos "pertaining to the upper abdomen, affected in the hypochondrium," from hypokhondria (see hypochondria). The noun is from 1630s as "melancholy person;" in the modern sense from 1866.
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melancholiac (n.)

"person afflicted with melancholy, one who is affected with mental gloom," 1819, from melancholia. Earlier in same sense were melancholian (1630s), melancholist (1590s), melancholic (1580s).

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mal du siecle (n.)

by 1884, from French mal du sìecle, "world-weariness, atrophy of the spirit, aristocratic boredom, deep melancholy over the condition of the world," supposedly a characteristic condition of young romantics in Europe in the early 19c. It answers to German Weltschmerz.

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