- the thick mucus secreted in the respiratory passages and discharged through the mouth, especially that occurring in the lungs and throat passages, as during a cold.
- one of the four elemental bodily humors of medieval physiology, regarded as causing sluggishness or apathy.
- sluggishness, indifference, or apathy.
- self-possession, calmness, or composure.
Origin of phlegm
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for phlegm
I was never sure whether this was phlegm or the onset of lunacy.Why Can’t Movies Capture Genius?
December 14, 2014
So after my father died I wrote a book, Fathers and Sons, with the intention of casting the Wavian phlegm out of my system.Evelyn Waugh's Grandson on the Secret Behind 'Brideshead'
April 17, 2010
There is a third class of diseases which are produced, some by wind and some by phlegm and some by bile.Timaeus
Under Teuton phlegm lies an hysteria that rivals that of the Latin races.
A fellow of your phlegm should find pleasure in the contemplation of cabbages.The Lady of Loyalty House
Justin Huntly McCarthy
One of Popes precepts is, to write with fury and correct with phlegm.Hints on Extemporaneous Preaching
I am always annoyed with phlegm, but to-day I seem to snivel more than usual.Meditations
- the viscid mucus secreted by the walls of the respiratory tract
- archaic one of the four bodily humours
- apathy; stolidity; indifference
- self-possession; imperturbability; coolness
Word Origin and History for phlegm
late 14c., fleem "viscid mucus" (the stuff itself and also regarded as a bodily humor), from Old French fleume (13c., Modern French flegme), from Late Latin phlegma, one of the four humors of the body, from Greek phlegma "humor caused by heat," lit "inflammation, heat," from phlegein "to burn," related to phlox (genitive phlogos) "flame, blaze," from PIE *bhleg- "to shine, flash," from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)). Modern form is attested from c.1660. The "cold, moist" humor of the body, in medieval physiology, it was believed to cause apathy.
- Thick, sticky, stringy mucus secreted by the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, as during a cold or other respiratory infection.
- One of the four humors of ancient and medieval physiology, thought to cause sluggishness, apathy, and evenness of temper.
- Thick mucus produced by the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, as during a cold or other respiratory infection.