\ˈflem \

Definition of phlegm 

1 : the one of the four humors in early physiology that was considered to be cold and moist and to cause sluggishness

2 : viscid mucus secreted in abnormal quantity in the respiratory passages

3a : dull or apathetic coldness or indifference

b : intrepid coolness or calm fortitude

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Other Words from phlegm

phlegmy \ˈfle-mē \ adjective

Examples of phlegm in a Sentence

He displayed remarkable phlegm in very dangerous conditions. a man of remarkable phlegm, never showing enthusiasm nor displeasure

Recent Examples on the Web

Signs and symptoms that may indicate a serious cause of chest pain: Association with fever, or cough plus green or yellow phlegm. Coughing up blood., "Medical mystery: An unexpected - and ironic - cause of chest pain," 24 June 2018 Toby, Council's Australian shepherd, recently started coughing up blood and phlegm, Council said. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Controversy in the air as Mesa homeowners decry neighboring asphalt plant’s odors," 11 July 2018 Image Chazz Palminteri had phlegm in his throat on a recent Friday. New York Times, "Chazz Palminteri Is Singing. Sonny Would Tell You to Listen.," 25 May 2018 Avgolemono at North Beach Gyro: Lemon supposedly reduces phlegm in the body, and avgolemono packs in the tartness with the homey feel of chicken soup. — U.R. 701 Union St., San Francisco. Sarah Fritsche, San Francisco Chronicle, "Our favorite cure-all soups in San Francisco," 1 Mar. 2018 The topic is Hippocrates’ psychological prototypes — melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic and choleric — based on ancient beliefs in four corresponding humors: black bile, blood, phlegm and yellow bile. Lauren Warnecke,, "Joffrey’s intense, anything-but-safe ‘Modern Masters’ shows how American ballet got here," 8 Feb. 2018 For instance, staying hydrated makes your mucus and phlegm thinner and, therefore, easier to clear. Korin Miller, SELF, "Lea Michele Swears This Soup Is a 'Flu-Buster'," 5 Feb. 2018 Yan’s world is earthy, male and often very juvenile: snot, urine, phlegm and voluminous breasts almost qualify as secondary characters. Jamie Fisher, New York Times, "In the Brutality of the Chinese Countryside, ‘Mythorealism’ Reigns," 26 Jan. 2018 When the air quality is bad enough, even healthy people can suffer wheezing, phlegm, and inflammation. Eleanor Cummins, Slate Magazine, "Smoke From California’s Wildfires Will Only Get Worse," 11 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phlegm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of phlegm

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for phlegm

Middle English fleume, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin phlegmat-, phlegma, from Greek, flame, inflammation, phlegm, from phlegein to burn — more at black

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Statistics for phlegm

Last Updated

18 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for phlegm

The first known use of phlegm was in the 13th century

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English Language Learners Definition of phlegm

: a thick, yellowish liquid that is produced in the nose and throat especially when a person has a cold

: calmness in a difficult or unpleasant situation


\ˈflem \

Medical Definition of phlegm 

1 : the one of the four humors of ancient and medieval physiology that was believed to be cold and moist and to cause sluggishness

2 : viscid mucus secreted in abnormal quantity in the respiratory passages

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