\ ˈflem How to pronounce phlegm (audio) \

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 How to pronounce phlegmy (audio) \ 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

The practitioner dealt mostly with plants and relied on the ancient system called the Four Humors, which focused on bile, phlegm, and blood. Dennis Hohenberger,, "Horticulturalist Gives History Of The Apothecary," 30 Aug. 2019 Unfortunately for Kulick, sago jelly, a delicacy the villagers proudly prepare for him, reminds him of phlegm flavored with furniture polish. Lucinda Robb, Washington Post, "As a language dies, who will mourn? Should anyone?," 9 Aug. 2019 Galen, the Greco-Roman physician of the second century, argued that all human pathology could be conceptualized as imbalances of humors—black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. Siddhartha Mukherjee, The New Yorker, "The Promise and Price of Cellular Therapies," 15 July 2019 Step 2: Sweet tea ferments in tanks with 2,000 gallons of symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, known as SCOBY, which looks like a giant phlegm Frisbee. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How To Make Gasoline From Tea," 15 May 2019 Other symptoms of congestive heart failure include a rapid or irregular heartbeat, a persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink phlegm, an increased need to pee at night, difficulty concentrating, and chest pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Korin Miller, SELF, "13 Surprising Medical Conditions That Can Cause Weight Gain or Loss (and When to Go to the Doctor)," 12 Nov. 2018 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

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 entry 1

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Statistics for phlegm

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for phlegm

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

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More Definitions for phlegm



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
literary : calmness in a difficult or unpleasant situation


\ ˈflem How to pronounce phlegm (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on phlegm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with phlegm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for phlegm

Spanish Central: Translation of phlegm

Nglish: Translation of phlegm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of phlegm for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about phlegm

Comments on phlegm

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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