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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Malan-, Melancoly, n. Also: -l(i)e, -lye, -kolie, -kolye, -choly, -lie, mallan-, mellencoly, maloncolie, melancollie and Merancolie. [ME. malyncoly (c 1303), malencolye, e.m.E. melancoly(e (1477), -choly (1578), OF. melancolie, malencollie, etc., L. melancholia.]Many verse examples indicate stress on the second and fourth syllables.

1. The physical or mental condition resulting from an excess of ‘black bile’. b. concr. The ‘humour’ or fluid of ‘black bile’ itself. 1456 Hay II. 131/8.
[In winter] haboundis in men a thing callit colare nygre that drawis to melancoly
Ib. /15.
a1500 Bk. Chess 10.
Jubiter … Causit … ane … influens Throw the quhilk generit was a pestilens … Of the grevous passioun malancoly
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxiii. 85. 1528 Lynd. Dreme 58.
Because I se thy spreit … perturbit be malancolye, Causyng thy corps to vaxin cauld and drye
1535 Stewart 673.
Mortiferous melancolie, That horribill edder with vipros invie
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus Prol. 28.
b. 1581-1623 James VI Poems II. 151/30.
This claiey dregg & thicc Is blake melankolie [etc.]
Id. Dæmonol. 30.
As the humor of melancholie in the selfe is blacke, heauie and terrene [etc.]

2. Hot or violent temper, rage, anger, sullenness, resentment.To maik melancholy, to be angry or resentful.(1) 1375 Barb. xvi. 128.
Vith that the king come hastely, And in his gret malancoly, With ane trunsioune in[till] his nave, To schir Colyne sic dusche he gave, That he dynnyt on his arsoune
c1420 Wynt. viii. 6052.
The Kyng his malancoly Forgawe
c1420 Ratis R. 827.
Yre That byrnis in thi thocht as fyr For malancoly and disspyte
c1475 Wall. vii. 179. 1492 Myll Spect. 288/31. 1531 Bell. Boece I. p. ii. Arundel MS. 252/422.
In malancoly and glutony
(b) 1460 Hay I. 287/8. Alex. (c 1580) i. 2941, ii. 3828, etc.
For na wordis of hete and sudane ire of chaudecole or of chaude mellencoly
1535 Stewart 14108. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 213.
Ane meik answer slokins melancolie
Ib. 1299.
Malice, wodnes and greit melancholie
Id. Ct. Venus iii. 266. 1567 Sat. P. vii. 191.
Quha slew him self of proude melancolie
(2) (c 1580) Alex. ii. 5652.
Na for the King of Greces saik Sall na man melancoly maik

3. Deep dejection or sadness, mental depression, either habitual or contracted.Also to tak (= contract) malancoly.(a) 1492 Myll Spect. 285/5.
For gret malancoly and displesour this noble king deit
Ib. 273/10. a1500 Colk. Sow i. 490 (Bann. MS.). 1494 Loutfut MS. 37 b.
Bourevische … is gud aganis malancolie and giffis blythnes
a1500 Bk. Chess 14.
This dedlie passioun malancoly
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 1059. c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxiii. 21. Ib. lxiii. 76.
For truble in erd tak no mallancoly
1513 Doug. ii. Prol. 13.
Saturn, thou auld fader of malancoly
1531 Bell. Boece I. 179, 219, etc. Id. Livy I. 221/30. 1533 Boece viii. iv. 256 b.
This prince … schewe neuer signe of glaidnes … bot erare of tristis and malancolie
Abell 89 b, 1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 562.
Deit King Johne mair be malancole na seiknes
a1568 Scott iv. 58, xxviii. 18. a1568 Wedderburn Bann. MS. 287 b/5.
1570 Leslie 268.
Throuche gret maloncolie
1672 Wemyss Corr. 115.
The malincolie I contracted by it [a disappointment] … hes so affected my weak bodie as [etc.]
(b) 1549 Compl. 25/23.
Lyike to dee in melancolie
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 116. c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxxi. 49. a1585 Maitl. Q. lxxxix. 9.
Langour breidis melancolie
a1578 Pitsc. I. 406/28.
He tuik sic melancollie … that no confort … might satisfie him
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 316. 1596 Dalr. I. 89/6.
1665 Highland P. III. 34.
In deape fit of melancholie and destraction

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"Melancoly n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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