Word of the Day
Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Definitions for atrabilious

  1. Melancholic; gloomy.
  2. Irritable; ill-natured; peevish.

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Citations for atrabilious
Captain Aubrey's steward [was] an ill-faced, ill-tempered, meagre, atrabilious, shrewish man who kept his officer's uniform, equipment and silver in a state of exact, old-maidish order come wind or high water. Patrick O'Brian, The Hundred Days
So here we have him, as entertainingly atrabilious as ever he was . . . mocking the Fords, the Hitlers, the Mussolinis, the Sir Alfred Monds, the Owen D. Youngs -- all who would go back on laissez-faire and on toward the servile state. John Chamberlain, New York Times
Origin of atrabilious
Atrabilious is from Latin atra bilis, "black" (atra) "bile" (bilis). It is a translation of Greek melankholia, from melas, melan-, "black" + khole, "bile." According to ancient and medieval physiology, an excess of black bile in the system was supposed to cause melancholy.