• choleric •
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Hot-tempered, peevish, ill-tempered, bilious
Notes: Today's Good Word is an adjective from an adjective, for the noun melancholy, on which melancholic is based, may also be used as an adjective, as to receive a melancholy letter from home. Obversely, melancholic may be used as a noun as well as an adjective, as someone who is an inveterate melancholic who seldom leaves the house. Melancholically is the appropriate adverb for today's adjective.
In Play: If you are tired of hearing and saying grumpy and would like to elevate the tone of your conversation, today's Good Word is perfect for you: "I guess the diet isn't working for Les Waite; I got a choleric reply when I asked him about it." If you are like me, you never did like the new use of ballistic, either, so why not substitute today's Good Word for it, too: "Donny Brooke was out of humor when he came in this morning but when he saw the stack of work on his desk, he became choleric."
Word History: Today's Good Word came from Latin cholera "jaundice", borrowed from Greek khole "bile". The ancients distinguished between yellow bile and black bile, the latter apparently imaginary. Yellow bile, however, is that bile secreted by the liver. Its Greek name comes from the same original Proto-Indo-European root (ghel- "to shine") that produced English yellow and gold. In German today it is gelb "yellow". Most English words containing GL and referring to light contain a reduction of the same root: gleam, glimmer, glitter, glow, and the like. Latin galbinus "yellowish" comes from the same root. It hardly changed in Romanian galben, but became jaunice in Old French. English borrowed the French word, reshaping it into jaundice, the yellowness of the skin when hepatitis disturbs the yellow bile of the liver.
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