The adjective for bile, bilious has five meanings, two being exclusively medical and three related to the "humors" of the body. The word "bilious" goes back to the old belief that there were four bodily humors (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood) and these four humors determined a person's temperament. "Bilious" was the personality type associated with an excess of yellow bile. The word "bilious" derives from the French "bilieux," which in turn came from "bilis," the Latin term for "bile." The five meanings are:
1) of or relating to bile.
2) suffering from liver dysfunction (and especially excessive secretion of bile).
3) indicative of a peevish ill-natured disposition.
4) sickeningly unpleasant
5) resembling bile, especially in color (yellowish-green)
"The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for The Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating."
— Patton, 1970
Thanks to Faith for today's WOTD entry
Thursday, July 24, 2008