Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of or relating to phlegm; phlegmy.
  • adjective Having or suggesting a calm, sluggish temperament; unemotional or apathetic.
  • adjective Archaic Having phlegm as the dominant humor in terms of medieval physiology.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of the nature of phlegm; watery; aqueous: as, phlegmatic humors.
  • Generating or causing phlegm.
  • Abounding in phlegm; lymphatic; hence, cold; dull; sluggish; heavy; not easily excited to action or passion; apathetic; cool and self-restrained: as, a phlegmatic temperament. See temperament.
  • Synonyms Frigid, impassive, unsusceptible. See apathy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Watery.
  • adjective Abounding in phlegm
  • adjective Generating or causing phlegm.
  • adjective Not easily excited to action or passion; cold; dull; sluggish; heavy.
  • adjective (Old Physiol.) lymphatic temperament. See under Lymphatic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Not easily excited to action or passion; calm; sluggish.
  • adjective archaic Abounding in phlegm; as, phlegmatic humors; a phlegmatic constitution.
  • adjective Generating, causing, or full of phlegm.
  • adjective Watery.
  • noun One who has a phlegmatic disposition.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective showing little emotion

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English fleumatik, from Old French fleumatique, from Late Latin phlegmaticus, full of phlegm, from Greek phlegmatikos, from phlegma, phlegmat-, heat, the humor phlegm, from phlegein, to burn; see bhel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek φλέγμα (phlégma, "phlegma")

Examples

  • His temperament exhibited all the varieties known to science: in the morning, before drinking, he was melancholy; in the middle of the day, choleric; and in the evening, phlegmatic, that is to say, he did nothing at that time but snore and grunt till he was put to bed.

    A Desperate Character

  • He recalled the phlegmatic doctor, he recalled how he had grinned, that is, wrinkled up his nose when he saw him coming out of the wood almost arm-inarm with Baron Dönhof.

    The Torrents of Spring

  • English, in our passion for daily excitement, might call her phlegmatic, but we should call her so unjustly.

    Tales of all countries

  • One of the psychologists in Solar Defence had termed Hunter phlegmatic, which is to say lazy and sluggish.

    Secret Mission Moluk

  • He recalled the phlegmatic doctor, he recalled how he had grinned, that is, wrinkled up his nose when he saw him coming out of the wood almost arm-in-arm with Baron Dönhof.

    The Torrents of Spring

  • His temperament exhibited all the varieties known to science: in the morning, before drinking, he was melancholy; in the middle of the day, choleric; and in the evening, phlegmatic, that is to say, he did nothing at that time but snore and grunt till he was put to bed.

    A Desperate Character and Other Stories

  • If we cast a glance at the variety to be observed in the human character in respect to feeling, we find, first, some people who have very little excitability, who are called phlegmatic or indolent.

    On War — Volume 1

  • Phlegmatic: The phlegmatic is the hardest to pinpoint because she's the queen of blending in.

    It's my life...

  • The present Pakistani government is holding on by its fingernails and its response to the earthquake will probably be phlegmatic, which is, unfortunately, probably as much as it can manage.

    Outside The Beltway | OTB

  • Medical and popular opinion accused plants that grew underground of causing "phlegmatic" diseases, which ran the gamut from leprosy to hemorrhoids.

    More about Potatoes in France

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • I used this word in a conversation today. Yay me! (It was in reference to a colleague from England. Ahuh! Huhhuh! < -- weak upper-class-twit laugh.)

    October 18, 2007

  • Why the sudden penchant for weak upper-class-twit laugh? :-)

    October 18, 2007

  • It's how I make stupid jokes, and then make clear that it's a stupid joke. Ahuh! Huhhuh!

    (see? You probably didn't know that was a laugh, did you? Yet I spelled it phonetically. What's a poor chained_bear to do?)

    October 18, 2007

  • Ohhhhh. I get it. Heehee.

    October 18, 2007

  • One of the four humors.

    May 9, 2008

  • not stick shift

    not automatic

    my transmission

    is phlegmatic

    November 7, 2009

  • Superficially he's a phlegmatic type, slouching round in old clothes, staring vacantly at the stars or at nothing at all, sitting in the center of a circle of students and scratching his head and grinning.

    Oscar James Campbell, Patterns for Living

    December 14, 2011

  • I never really thought of "sluggish" as a synonym or part of the definition for phlegmatic. Maybe because, for whatever reason, phlegmatic has a positive association for me. I tend to think of Ron Swanson when I hear "phlegmatic."

    March 6, 2012