phlegm late 14c., fleem "viscid mucus" (the stuff itself and also regarded as a bodily humor), from O.Fr. fleume (13c., Fr. flegme), from L.L. phlegma, from Gk. phlegma "inflammation, heat, humor caused by heat," from phlegein "to burn," related to phlox (gen. phlogos) "flame, blaze," from PIE *bhleg- "to shine, flash," from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see BLEACH (Cf. bleach)). Modern form is attested from c.1660. The "cold, moist" humor of the body, in medieval physiology, it was believed to cause apathy.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Phlegm — (pron en|ˈflεm) is sticky fluid secreted by the mucous membranes of humans and other animals. Its definition is limited to the mucus produced by the respiratory system, excluding that from the nasal passages, and particularly that which is… …   Wikipedia

  • Phlegm — Phlegm, n. [F. phlegme, flegme, L. phlegma, fr. Gr. ? a flame, inflammation, phlegm, a morbid, clammy humor in the body, fr. ? to burn. Cf. {Phlox}, {Flagrant}, {Flame}, {Bleak}, a., and {Fluminate}.] 1. One of the four humors of which the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • phlegm|y — «FLEHM ee», adjective. 1. like phlegm. 2. characterized by phlegm. 3. = phlegmatic. (Cf. ↑phlegmatic) …   Useful english dictionary

  • phlegm — [flem] n [U] [Date: 1300 1400; : Old French; Origin: fleume, from Latin phlegma, from Greek, flame, phlegm , from phlegein to burn ] 1.) the thick yellowish substance produced in your nose and throat, especially when you have a cold = ↑mucus 2.)… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • phlegm — index disinterest (lack of interest), languor, sloth Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • phlegm — [ flem ] noun uncount 1. ) a thick yellow or green substance that you get in your nose and throat, especially when you have a cold 2. ) FORMAL the ability to be calm in a dangerous or frightening situation …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • phlegm — 1 impassivity, stolidity, apathy, stoicism (see under IMPASSIVE) Analogous words: insensibility, insensitiveness, impassibility, anesthesia (see corresponding adjectives at INSENSIBLE) 2 *equanimity, composure, sangfroid Analogous words:… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • phlegm — meaning ‘a viscous substance discharged by coughing’, is pronounced flem. The g is also silent in the adjective phlegmy, but is pronounced in phlegmatic (fleg mat ik), meaning ‘stolidly calm and unemotional’ …   Modern English usage

  • phlegm — ► NOUN 1) the thick viscous substance secreted by the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages. 2) (in medieval science and medicine) one of the four bodily humours, believed to be associated with a calm or apathetic temperament. 3) calmness… …   English terms dictionary

  • phlegm — [flem] n. [ME fleume < MFr < LL phlegma, clammy humor of the body < Gr, inflammation, hence, humors caused by inflammation < phlegein, to burn: for IE base see BLACK] 1. the thick, stringy mucus secreted by the mucous glands of the… …   English World dictionary

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