\ˈsplēn \

Definition of spleen 

1 : a highly vascular ductless organ that is located in the left abdominal region near the stomach or intestine of most vertebrates and is concerned with final destruction of red blood cells, filtration and storage of blood, and production of lymphocytes

2 obsolete : the seat of emotions or passions

3 archaic : melancholy

4 : feelings of anger or ill will often suppressed

5 obsolete : a sudden impulse or whim : caprice

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Synonyms & Antonyms for spleen


anger, angriness, birse [chiefly Scottish], choler, furor, fury, indignation, irateness, ire, lividity, lividness, mad, madness, mood [archaic], outrage, rage, wrath, wrathfulness


delight, pleasure

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malice, malevolence, ill will, spite, malignity, spleen, grudge mean the desire to see another experience pain, injury, or distress. malice implies a deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another suffer. felt no malice toward their former enemies malevolence suggests a bitter persistent hatred that is likely to be expressed in malicious conduct. a look of dark malevolence ill will implies a feeling of antipathy of limited duration. ill will provoked by a careless remark spite implies petty feelings of envy and resentment that are often expressed in small harassments. petty insults inspired by spite malignity implies deep passion and relentlessness. a life consumed by motiveless malignity spleen suggests the wrathful release of latent spite or persistent malice. venting his spleen against politicians grudge implies a harbored feeling of resentment or ill will that seeks satisfaction. never one to harbor a grudge

Examples of spleen in a Sentence

vented her spleen and felt much better for having done so the bill's failure to pass in the legislature was due to nothing more than partisan spleen

Recent Examples on the Web

Republicans have, too, the rising spleen of the left, which is scarifying to the peaceful and will likely bring a backlash. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "A Long Way From the Arsenal of Democracy," 18 Oct. 2018 The disease can also cause enlarged liver, glands, or spleen. Bartie Scott, Teen Vogue, "Disease Spread by Kissing Bug Could Become More Common in the U.S.," 21 Aug. 2018 In 1990, researchers learned that the spleens of Japanese pearl divers contract harder than normal, boosting blood oxygen by up to 9% during dives. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Indonesian divers have evolved bigger spleens to hunt underwater," 19 Apr. 2018 She was discovered to have 16 fractured ribs, liver and spleen lacerations, a brain bleed and facial bruising, according to the suit. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "Washington state pays $19 million to settle abuse case that left child paralyzed and blind," 26 Oct. 2018 Gilman was shot in the back; the bullet punctured a lung, lacerated her spleen and a kidney, broke two ribs and lodged 2 millimeters from her spinal cord. Fox News, "Living with fear: Vegas shooting survivor, wife march on," 27 Sep. 2018 Skye’s father, from Ventura, Calif., said his daughter developed a bacterial infection and her spleen was removed because of complications from the cancer. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "A bride gave bone marrow to save a stranger’s baby. The child lived — and was her flower girl.," 3 July 2018 Patients are also warned to avoid competitive sports because the spleen is at risk for rupture if it is enlarged. New York Times, "My Daughter Has Mono. Is the Whole Family at Risk?," 29 June 2018 Without treatment, children with ALPS suffer from swollen and painful lymph nodes and spleen, uncontrolled bleeding and increased infections. Aimee Swartz, Washington Post, "Viagra and many other drugs were discovered by chance. Now science is hoping to change that.," 13 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spleen.' 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 spleen

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spleen

Middle English splen, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French espleen, from Latin splen, from Greek splēn; akin to Latin lien spleen, Sanskrit plīhan

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Statistics for spleen

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for spleen

The first known use of spleen was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for spleen



English Language Learners Definition of spleen

: an organ located near your stomach that destroys worn-out red blood cells and produces white blood cells

: feelings of anger


\ˈsplēn \

Kids Definition of spleen

: an organ near the stomach that destroys worn-out red blood cells and produces some of the white blood cells


\ˈsplēn \

Medical Definition of spleen 

: a highly vascular ductless abdominal organ of vertebrates that resembles a gland in organization but is closely associated with the circulatory system, that plays a role in the final destruction of red blood cells, filtration and storage of blood, and production of lymphocytes, and that in humans is a dark purplish flattened oblong object of a soft fragile consistency lying near the cardiac end of the stomach and consisting largely of blood and lymphoid tissue enclosed in a fibroelastic capsule from which trabeculae ramify through the tissue of the organ which is divisible into a loose friable red pulp in intimate connection with the blood supply and with red blood cells free in its interstices and a denser white pulp chiefly of lymphoid tissue condensed in masses about the small arteries

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More from Merriam-Webster on spleen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spleen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spleen

Spanish Central: Translation of spleen

Nglish: Translation of spleen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spleen for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spleen

Comments on spleen

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


a nest or breeding place

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