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Bilious Billy not only had terribly bad breath and body odor, but also possessed a rather unpleasant personality. Many co-workers had attempted to tell Billy politely about this bilious and disgusting physical problem, but he would not listen since he was so irritable. As a result of his bilious, unhealthy presence and his disagreeable behavior, he soon lost the few friends he did have.

Quiz: When someone is acting in a bilious fashion, they are

  • Playing practical jokes around the office.
  • Having trouble working with others.
  • Being highly disagreeable.

Memory Hook

Billy Club! When the bilious policeman took out his billy club, we weren't going to wait around to see his temper really flare into bullying us!


  • Stephen Sondheim, the composer, wrote a 'Gotcha' to Safire, attacking him for making his language column 'a sly forum for his virulent, bilious and, in my opinion, psychopathic hatred of Bill Clinton.' —BNET
  • Frontman Bobby Gillespie dabbled in political rhetoric on Vanishing Point, but this time he goes whole hog, hurling the most bilious rants you've heard since Rage Against the Machine discovered Noam Chomsky. —Rolling Stone
  • That is why New York hockey so needs a bilious rivalry between the Rangers, who have not won a pro title since 1940, and the Islanders, who are slipping after winning four cups in their first 18 years. —The New York Times

Word Ingredients

bil bile, yellowish fluid secreted by the liver
-ious of the nature of

Medieval medicine taught that the body possessed four fluids or humors: black bile, yellow bile (choler), blood, and phlegm; the relative concentrations of these four humors, different for each person, determined mood, health, and general disposition. An excess of choler, or “yellow bile,” made one angry or irritable.

Word Constellation