Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective phleg·mat·ic \fleg-ˈma-tik\

Simple Definition of phlegmatic

  • : not easily upset, excited, or angered

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of phlegmatic

  1. 1 :  resembling, consisting of, or producing the humor phlegm(see phlegm)

  2. 2 :  having or showing a slow and stolid temperament


play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of phlegmatic in a sentence

  1. Some people are phlegmatic, some highly strung. Some are anxious, others risk-seeking. Some are confident, others shy. Some are quiet, others loquacious. We call these differences personality … —Matt Ridley, Genome, 1999

  2. Why would a man live like this? Alone on the godforsaken prairie surrounded by whispering cornfields and phlegmatic Swedes if instead you could go to picture shows and snazzy restaurants and dance with a beautiful woman with her head on your shoulder and her perfume driving you wild? —Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance, 1991

  3. But Einstein was phlegmatic: when a book was published entitled 100 Authors Against Einstein, he retorted, “If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!” —Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 1988

  4. <a strangely phlegmatic response to what should have been happy news>

Origin and Etymology of phlegmatic

(see phlegm)

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of phlegmatic

impassive, stoic, phlegmatic, apathetic, stolid mean unresponsive to something that might normally excite interest or emotion. impassive stresses the absence of any external sign of emotion in action or facial expression <met the news with an impassive look>. stoic implies an apparent indifference to pleasure or especially to pain often as a matter of principle or self-discipline <was resolutely stoic even in adversity>. phlegmatic implies a temperament or constitution hard to arouse <a phlegmatic man unmoved by tears>. apathetic may imply a puzzling or deplorable indifference or inertness <charitable appeals met an apathetic response>. stolid implies a habitual absence of interest, responsiveness, or curiosity <stolid workers wedded to routine>.

Other Physiology Terms

Medical Dictionary


adjective phleg·mat·ic \fleg-ˈmat-ik\

Medical Definition of phlegmatic

  1. 1:  resembling, consisting of, or producing the humor phlegm

  2. 2:  having or showing a slow and stolid temperament


\-i-k(ə-)lē\play adverb

Learn More about phlegmatic

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up phlegmatic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take off or remove

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which is a synonym of indolent?

melancholy frenetic philistine lazy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.