See also: Spleen



From Middle English splene, splen, from Anglo-Norman espleen and Old French esplein, esplen, from Latin splēn (milt), from Ancient Greek σπλήν (splḗn, the spleen). Doublet of lien. Partially displaced the native English term milt.


  • enPR: splēn, IPA(key): /spliːn/
  • Rhymes: -iːn
  • (file)


spleen (countable and uncountable, plural spleens)

  1. (anatomy, immunology) In vertebrates, including humans, a ductless vascular gland, located in the left upper abdomen near the stomach, which destroys old red blood cells, removes debris from the bloodstream, acts as a reservoir of blood, and produces lymphocytes.
  2. (archaic, except in the set phrase "to vent one's spleen") A bad mood; spitefulness.
    • 1709, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Criticism, London: [] W. Lewis [], published 1711, OCLC 15810849:
      In noble minds some dregs remain, / Not yet purged off, of spleen and sour disdain.
    • 1843, “A Voice from Trinidad”, in Colonial Magazine and Commercial-maritime Journal, page 465:
      Too many, however, who might take an honourable stand, fear the petty spleen of the plantocracy; preferring the most disgusting adulation, to the blessing of him ready to perish.
  3. (obsolete, rare) A sudden motion or action; a fit; a freak; a whim.
  4. (obsolete) Melancholy; hypochondriacal affections.
  5. A fit of immoderate laughter or merriment.


  • milt (now chiefly of animals)
  • lien (uncommon)

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


  • French: spleen
  • German: Spleen



spleen (third-person singular simple present spleens, present participle spleening, simple past and past participle spleened)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To dislike.
    • 1693, John Hacket, Scrinia Reserata
      T. Wentworth ſpleen'd the Bishop
  2. To annoy or irritate.
    • 1832, The Edinburgh Review: Or Critical Journal - Volume 111, page 488:
      There had been a good deal of provocation, we have no doubt, before the republican simplicity, at which Mrs Trollope seems to have been so justly offended, was spleened into speaking of the old woman.
    • 2013, Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated:
      If you want to know why I am always spleening her, it is because I am always elsewhere with friends, and disseminating so much currency, and performing so many things that can spleen a mother.
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To complain; to rail; to vent one's spleen.
    • 1883, Frank Abial Flower, Life of Matthew Hale Carpenter, page 292:
      It was satisfactory to a majority of the bolters, but most of the democrats spleened against him.
    • 1904, ‎Philip Loring Spooner, ‎Abram Daniel Smith, Wisconsin Reports, page xliv:
      He never counseled litigation for the sake of litigation, and no client ever complained of his loyalty, He hated sham and pretense, and openly spleened at the empty mouthing oracle of the street corner, the society, or the church.
    • 1964, Christine Gay, Pegasus, page 39:
      O Captain, my Captain, I shan't migrain that fight —A teritable Dunga Minh art thou, A phantom of loneflight; And though I've swaggered you and spleened you, By the living bilge that gleaned you — You're a better man than I am, Dunga Minh!
    • 2021, John Ritter, Fatal Conceit:
      When he phoned the old man in Idaho, Herman Zaunbrecher spleened “no dothead fucking quack's gonna treat my boy like a lab rat” and ordered the surgeon to put Randall on the next flight to Boise.
  4. To remove the spleen, or, by extension, to gore.
    • 1667, Famianus Strada, The History of the Low-Countrey Warres, page 75:
      Nor did they only take Townes, kill such as made resistance, and rob houses, with the Licentiousnesse and Avarice of Souldiers, but with barbarous Inhumanity spared no age nor modesty; tyrannizing over the Rest and Monuments of the dead, which they spleened as much as the Living;
    • 1866, John Jones Thomas, Britannia Antiquissima, page 79:
      I grant a good deal to Grecian pride of prose, and Roman fund of poesy, when spleened and gored to shame, defeat, and loss of prestige, on the battle-field by mere "barbaric" ( ? ) troops of Cimbric Hyperborean Celts.
    • 1892, George Atherton Aitken, ‎George A. Aitken, ‎John Arbuthnot, The Life and Works of John Arbuthnot, M.D, page 328:
      "That is true," quoth Albertu, “but pray consider on the other side that animals spleened grow extremely salacious, an experiment well known in dogs."
  5. To excise or remove.
    • 1996, William Everson, ‎Clif Ross, William Everson: The Light the Shadow Casts, page 105:
      That will be how we lose what we have gained, The incremental rapture at the core, Spleened of the belly's thick placental wrath, And the seed's roar.
    • 2006, Chris Eann, Lord Buddha: Book of Omens, page 45:
      Picking up where I left off...broken down, knowing they'd pick through my bones like vultures for what marrow they hadn't already spleened from me.
    • 2019, V. A. February, Mind Your Colour:
      There is even a subtle reference to sexuality in the poem, but it is formulated in such a manner that it is spleened of all vulgarity.




Borrowed from English spleen in the 19th century.



spleen m (plural spleens)

  1. bad mood, melancholy
    Synonyms: bourdon, cafard, dépression, ennui, hypocondrie, langueur, neurasthénie
    J'ai le spleen.
    I'm in a bad mood

Further readingEdit



Unadapted borrowing from English spleen.


spleen n (uncountable)

  1. spleen (melancholy)