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See also: Spleen




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



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.
    • Alexander Pope
      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.
    • Shakespeare
      A thousand spleens bear her a thousand ways.
      Brief as the lightning in the collied night; That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and Earth
  4. (obsolete) Melancholy; hypochondriacal affections.
    • Alexander Pope
      Bodies changed to various forms by spleen.
    • Wordsworth
      There is a luxury in self-dispraise: / And inward self-disparagement affords / To meditative spleen a grateful feast.
  5. A fit of immoderate laughter or merriment.
    • Shakespeare
      Thy silly thought enforces my spleen.


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

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit




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

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To dislike.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bishop Hacket to this entry?)




Borrowed from English spleen in the 19th century.


  • IPA(key): /splin/
  • (file)


spleen m (plural spleens)

  1. bad mood, melancholy
    J'ai le spleen.


Further readingEdit