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"Rhynocoris iracundus", a bilious beetle, with rostrum ready to sting.


From French bilieux, from Latin bīliōsus (full of bile), from bīlis (bile) + -ōsus (full of).



bilious (comparative more bilious, superlative most bilious)

  1. Of or pertaining to something containing or consisting of bile.
  2. Resembling bile, especially in color.
    • 1845, Alexandre Dumas, Twenty Years After, chapter 31:
      His complexion was pale, not of that deadly pallor which is a kind of neutral beauty, but of a bilious, yellow hue; his colorless hair was short and scarcely extended beyond the circle formed by the hat around his head, and his light blue eyes seemed destitute of any expression.
  3. Suffering from real or supposed liver disorder, eslpecially excessive secretions of bile.
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, volume II, chapter 7:
      Perry tells me that Mr. Cole never touches malt liquor. You would not think it to look at him, but he is bilious—Mr. Cole is very bilious.
  4. Peevishly ill-humored, irritable or bad tempered; irascible.
    • 1830 January 1, Thomas Macauley, "[Review of] Southey's Colloquies on Society.", The Edinburgh Review, p. 536:
      The glorified spirit of a great statesman and philosopher dawdling, like a bilious old Nabob at a watering-place, over quarterly reviews and novels—dropping in to pay long calls—making excursions in search of the picturesque!
    • 1934 George Orwell, Burmese Days:
      The boarders, sharp-tongued bilious widows, pursued the only man in the establishment, a mild, bald creature who worked in La Samaritaine [] "

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