1 : resembling, consisting of, or producing the humor phlegm
2 : having or showing a slow and stolid temperament
“She said ‘Good morning, Miss,’ in her usual phlegmatic and brief manner; and taking up another ring and more tape, went on with her sewing.” — Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847
“You are aware of the finality of fate, and tend to have a phlegmatic and sometimes unhappy compromise with your life, even when you long for a definitive resolution.” — Molly Shea, The New York Post, 31 Aug. 2016
Did You Know?
According to the ancient Greeks, human personalities were controlled by four bodily fluids or semifluids called humors: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Each humor was associated with one of the four basic elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Phlegm was paired with water—the cold, moist element—and it was believed to impart the cool, calm, unemotional personality we now call the “phlegmatic type.” That’s a bit odd, given that the term derives from the Greek phlegma, which literally means “flame,” perhaps a reflection of the inflammation that colds and flus often bring.