Phlegmatic is the Weekly Word: What’s your alternative meaning?

This week’s word is Phlegmatic, it is one of the four temperaments first used by Hippocrates in Greco-Roman Medicine; the others were sanguine, choleric and melancholic. I have no idea why this word popped out at me but perhaps it describes how I’m feeling at the moment, a bit calm and quiet and pleased to be taking a break for a few days.

My alternative meaning for the word is ‘loud hacking cough‘ – what would your’s be?

This week’s word is Phlegmatic, it is an ADJECTIVE and is pronounced ‘flegg-mat-ich’

The word phlegmatic means one who is unemotional and a stoically calm disposition, does react or display much emotion. You could say that they are also apathetic or sluggish; or even self-possessed, calm, and composed.

Examples of the word Phlegmatic

  • She tried hard to encourage him to join in, but he was phlegmatic in his indifference to games
  • The phlegmatic nature of the man prevented others from asking him to join them after work.

Origins of the word Phlegmatic

Its first known use is in the 14thC sometime between 1300–50. It derives from the Latin word phlegmaticus, which in turn derives from the Greek word phlegmatikós (pertaining to phlegm), and it replaced the Middle English word fleumatik  which originated in the Middle French word fleumatique.

Why the Weekly Word?

The idea of the Weekly Word comes from Toastmasters International which is a speaking club I belong to. Each meeting we have a Grammarian Role and the purpose of the role is to try new words that stretch our vocabulary as well as to monitor and report back on people’s use of language. If you’d like to find out more about Toastmasters groups in your area then you can visit their website at:

Now, If you would like to see previous Weekly Words you can find them all listed here: the-weekly-word


  1. it even provides the milk of human kindness….

    of course that is my inner-marketing spilling over ( smile )

  2. That sounds perfect, do you think I could reprogramme it to serve a chilled pint of Fullers Ale?

  3. hmmm… at 56 most of the desired collectibles are already acquired, action toys are out ( unless accompanied by a session with a masseuse afterwards )…. so perhaps your smile would be the best choice…. unless… you wanted to test our robotic robo-bar. Mixes the perfect martini and delivers it in a spill proof glass by remote control helicopter. Not recommended outside on windy days.

  4. how old? Our marketing dept has other leading edge toys ready for testing, although the phlegmatic was one of our flagships.

  5. Oh dear, that means that Stevie will just have to do without this year, maybe next year they will have sorted out the self cleaning function so it is more appealing 🙂

  6. alas, test marketing indicates that although they are wildly popular with dads and kids, moms refuse to allow them in the house. It is back in the R&D department at this time. Something to do with the resemblance to boogers. ( smile )

  7. I do know what you mean Joanna, often when I’m mulling over the words I want to use I’ll think, ‘I don’t actually like it’ and so it get’s binned. And another great idea for the Christmas stocking there too – I know my partner Steve would love it 🙂

  8. It’s one of those words I turn away from, because I really don’t like the sound of it, if that makes sense!
    Billgncs’ alternative is pretty descriptive!! 😉
    My own alternative? Um……Frog LEGs made from plastic which jump around autoMATICally when wound up. Looks like we’re in Toyland this week….

  9. Phlegmatic — a child’s toy gun which rapidly shoots up to seven projectiles of gooey slimy putty at another. Guaranteed not to stain, but inspiring in it’s grossness, get one for your child today.

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