[ flem ]
See synonyms for phlegm on
  1. 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.

  2. one of the four elemental bodily humors of medieval physiology, regarded as causing sluggishness or apathy.

  1. sluggishness, indifference, or apathy.

  2. self-possession, calmness, or composure.

Origin of phlegm

1350–1400; Middle English fleem<Middle French flemme<Late Latin phlegma<Greek phlégma flame, phlegmatic humor, equivalent to phlég(ein) to burn + -ma resultative noun suffix

Other words for phlegm

Opposites for phlegm

Other words from phlegm

  • phlegmless, adjective

Words Nearby phlegm Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use phlegm in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for phlegm


/ (flɛm) /

  1. the viscid mucus secreted by the walls of the respiratory tract

  2. archaic one of the four bodily humours

  1. apathy; stolidity; indifference

  2. self-possession; imperturbability; coolness

Origin of phlegm

C14: from Old French fleume, from Late Latin phlegma, from Greek: inflammation, from phlegein to burn

Derived forms of phlegm

  • phlegmy, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for phlegm


[ flĕm ]

  1. Thick mucus produced by the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, as during a cold or other respiratory infection.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.