The Pulchritude Award: Phlegmatic

The Pulchritude Award goes to words that don’t sound anything like what they actually mean. Today’s winner is ‘phlegmatic,’ which is a word that’s 66% ‘Phlegm.’ Like anything that’s 66% phlegm, it sounds hella disgusting. But it turns out in ancient times, phlegm was one of the four bodily humors, and was believed to be associated with a calm temperament. So ‘phlegmatic’ actually means ‘stoic,’ ‘unemotional,’ ‘serene.’

FYI, those other three humors of ancient medicine were black bile (melancholic), yellow bile (choleric), and blood (sanguine). Collect them all! And the next time someone calls you phlegmatic, try to remain calm and don’t get offended!

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