September 10, 2012
spleen (noun)
\SPLEEN\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : an organ containing many blood vessels that is located near the stomach or intestine of most vertebrates, destroys worn-out red blood cells, filters the blood, and produces some white blood cells2 : anger, malice, spite
How do you use it?
"The old gentleman or lady, never very remarkable in the best of times for good temper, is full of aches and pains from head to foot; full of fancies and caprices; full of spleen, distrust, suspicion, and dislike." (Charles Dickens, _American Notes_)
Are you a word wiz?

What field of study contributed to the definition of "spleen" as both an emotion and an organ?

In the Middle Ages, scholars believed that certain emotions were associated with certain body parts or fluids. The spleen was thought to be the seat of melancholy, and one of the characteristics of melancholy was anger or crankiness. As biology has advanced, we've learned that things like anger aren't tied to particular organs. "Spleen," however, retained the sense it gained in medieval physiology and is still sometimes used to mean "anger" or "malice."
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