Melancholy Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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When you’re in a pensive mood or feeling down in the dumps, you may use melancholy to describe your state of mind — but what exactly does it mean? We’ll tell you.

Read on as we explore the word melancholy to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, antonyms, and more. By the end of this post, you should have a much better understanding of melancholy and even feel comfortable using it in a sentence.

What Is the Definition of Melancholy?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, our word of the day can be defined as a feeling of pensive sadness — typically with no obvious cause. It can also be used to describe a mental condition called melancholia or black bile.  

What Is the Origin of Melancholy?

The word “melancholy” (or μελαγχολία) has an ancient Greek origin. It’s a compound word with the first part being an adjective, “μέλας,” which simply means “dark.” 

The second part of the compound word comes from the noun “χολή,” which is the dark and viscous liquid that is excreted by black bile (this is derived from the Greek µέλαινα χολή or melaina chole).

Melancholy was initially used by Hippocrates during a period when ancient Greek philosophers tried to explain human behavior in relation to the human organism as opposed to the gods, astrology, or other exterior factors. 

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Melancholy?

To help you better understand our word of the day, let’s review a few synonyms and antonyms. 

As a refresher, synonyms are words with the same or similar meaning whereas antonyms are words with opposite meanings. 

Synonyms of melancholy include:

  • Melancholic 
  • Down and out
  • Mirthless
  • Depressed 
  • Miserable
  • The blues
  • Mournful 
  • Pensive
  • Blue devils 
  • Ennui
  • Funk 
  • Sun in gloom
  • In low spirits 
  • Cast down
  • Heavy-hearted
  • Droopy
  • Dragged
  • Torn up
  • In the doldrums
  • Despondency
  • Soul-stirring 
  • Dejection
  • Bleak
  • Never to be forgotten 
  • Broody
  • Morose
  • Solemn
  • On edge
  • At the end of your tether
  • Wretched
  • Dreary
  • Cogitative
  • Ruminant 
  • Deep toned
  • Not to be forgotten
  • Down in the dumps
  • Low spirited 
  • Forlorn
  • Joyless 
  • Down in the mouth
  • Gloominess
  • Saddening
  • Heaviness of heart
  • Mental suffering
  • Broken heartedness
  • Yearning for home 

Antonyms of melancholy include:

  • Cheerful
  • Happy
  • Glad
  • Upbeat
  • Blithe
  • Jubilant
  • Buoyed
  • Bright
  • Heartened
  • Elated
  • Optimistic 
  • Sunny
  • Blissful
  • Pleasurable
  • Fun
  • Holly
  • Unreflective
  • Unthinking
  • Spontaneous
  • Gay
  • Cozy
  • Cordial
  • Befriended
  • Pleased
  • Feel good
  • Euphoria
  • Advantage
  • Heaven
  • Confidence
  • Boon
  • Optimism
  • Exhilaration 

How Can You Use Melancholy in a Sentence?

Now that you understand what the word melancholy means, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to the test and practice using our word of the day in a sentence. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of example sentences below:

“I knew that my overall melancholy way of thinking and general gloomy state of mind had really started to take a toll on my mental health, yet I knew no way to remedy the situation.” 

“I’m aware that it’s generally conceived as a melancholy song, but for whatever rhyme or reason it always puts me in an outstanding mood.” 

“If you’re in a melancholy mood, I suggest detaching from social media and getting some vitamin D outside.”

“What’s up with your melancholy look? Did something bad or upsetting happen?”

“The music somber played by the orchestra suited Tonya’s melancholy mood.”

“Sadness and depression of spirits are typical words used to describe melancholy.”

“Many may look forward to sunny spring days or summer beach getaways but the melancholy days of autumn will always appeal to my inner recluse.” 

“Did you know that melancholy used to be regarded as one of the four temperaments matching the cardinal humors?”

“Sarah was cold, melancholy, haughty, and dull.”

“What’s the point of wealth if it brings melancholy?”

What Are Translations of Melancholy?

Did you know that our word of the day can be said in more ways than one? Here are some of the most common translations of melancholy provided by the Cambridge English Dictionary:

  • Chinese (simplified) — 憂鬱的,憂傷的, 憂鬱,憂傷
  • Czech — melancholie, melancholický
  • Spanish — melancólico, melancolía
  • Turkish — üzgün, kederli, keyifsiz
  • French — mélancolie, mélancolique
  • Malay — kesedihan, rasa sedih
  • Russian — унылый, подавленный
  • Italian — malinconia, malinconico
  • German — die Melancholie, melancholisch
  • Norwegian — tungsinn, melankoli, tungsindig
  • Portuguese — melancólico, melancolía
  • Danish — melankoli, melankolsk
  • Indonesian — kesedihan, sedih, melankolis
  • Thai — ภาวะเศร้าโศก, เศร้า
  • Vietnamese — sự u sầu, u sầu
  • Polish — melancholijny
  • Ukrainian — меланхолія, сум, меланхолійний

Any Tips to Beat Melancholy?

As a matter of fact, we have quite a few! Here are some tips and tricks you may want to consider if you’re feeling blue:

Tip #1: Watch something that makes you “LOL” like a good rom-com or comedy skit. Why? Because laughter is the best medicine!

Tip #2: Steer clear of silence. Things will instantly look and feel a little bit better.

Tip# 3: Practice self-love by taking a soothing bath or working out.

Tip #4: If you’re feeling sad, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, try to embrace your emotions. After all, you can’t heal what you don’t feel. 

Tip #5: Surround yourself with friends, family, and other loved ones. 

Tip #6: Whatever you do — don’t skimp on the Zzzs. Sleep and mood are closely related, so always do your best to get quality shut-eye at night.

A Final Word

Our word of the day is a feeling of bitter sadness. It’s usually seen as a more in-depth emotion with many strings attached. Those who suffer from depression or anxiety may feel melancholy and gloom often. 


MELANCHOLY: definition | Cambridge English Dictionary 

MELANCHOLY English Definition and Meaning |

History of the English Word Melancholy | Research Gate