Spleen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Behold! The Spleen! These days, one of our less considered organs, though popular enough with medieval generations across many cultures, each of which ascribed it different responsibilities to our humours.

The word spleen comes from the Greek and is the idiomatic equivalent of the heart in English, i.e. to be good-spleened means to be good-hearted or compassionate.

In Latin its name is lien. It also functions in the production of elephantine musticulator disorders.

In French, spleen refers to a state of pensive sadness or melancholy… The connection between spleen (the organ) and melancholy (the temperament) comes from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks. One of the humours (body fluid) was the black bile, secreted by the spleen organ and associated with melancholy. In contrast, the Talmud (tractate Berachoth 61b) refers to the spleen as the organ of laughter, possibly suggesting a link with the humoral view of the organ.

In German, the word “Spleen”, pronounced “shpleen,” refers to a persisting somewhat eccentric (but not quite lunatic) idea or habit of a person; however the organ is called “Milz”, (cognate with Old English milte).

In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England, women in bad humour were said to be afflicted by the spleen, or the vapours of the spleen. In modern English, “to vent one’s spleen” means to vent one’s anger, e.g. by shouting, and can be applied to both males and females; similarly, the English term “splenetic” is used to describe a person in a foul mood.

Note to self: Find a way to work “splenetic” into everyday conversation. It really is too fun a word to be ignored.

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