1. One of the four humors of which the ancients supposed the blood to be composed. See Humor.

2. <physiology> Viscid mucus secreted in abnormal quantity in the respiratory and digestive passages.

3. <chemistry> A watery distilled liquor, in distinction from a spirituous liquor.

4. Sluggishness of temperament; dullness; want of interest; indifference; coldness. "They judge with fury, but they write with phlegm." (Pope)

Origin: F. Phlegme, flegme, L. Phlegma, fr. Gr. A flame, inflammation, phlegm, a morbid, clammy humor in the body, fr. To burn. Cf. Phlox, Flagrant, Flame, Bleak, and Fluminate.

(01 Mar 1998)