from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Inclined to melancholy.
  • adj. Having a peevish disposition; surly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. characterized by melancholy
  • adj. ill-natured; malevolent

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Melancholic or hypochondriac; atrabiliary.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Affected as if by black bile; melancholic or hypochondriacal; splenetic. See atrabile.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. irritable as if suffering from indigestion


From Latin ātra bīlis, black bile (translation of Greek melankhōliā) : ātra, black; see āter- in Indo-European roots + bīlis, bile.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin ātra bīlis ("black bile"), from āter ("dark, black"), + bīlis ("bile"). Then the adjective suffix -ous ("full of") was added. (Wiktionary)



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  • According to Oxford English Dictionary, atrabilious means "affected by black bile or ‘choler adust’; melancholy, hypochondriac; splenetic, acrimonious."

    September 4, 2011

  • ""These conditions are appalling," said Sir Dabber with an atrabilious shake of the head."
    Under the Harrow by Mark Dunn, p 306

    September 4, 2011

  • See also atrabilarian.

    March 17, 2008

  • "...he detected much of this same cheerfulness throughout the ship and something not very far from apparent unconcern, even in so atrabilious a soul as Killick."
    --P. O'Brian, The Wine-Dark Sea, 254

    March 16, 2008

  • See also atramentous.

    January 14, 2007