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From Late Latin plethoricus, from Hellenistic Ancient Greek πληθωρικός (plēthōrikós), from πληθώρα (plēthṓra, plethora).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈplɛθəɹɪk/, /plɛˈθɒɹɪk/
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plethoric (comparative more plethoric, superlative most plethoric)

  1. (medicine) Suffering from plethora; ruddy in complexion, congested or swollen with blood. [from 14th c.]
    • 1820, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Oedipus Tyrannus; Or, Swellfoot The Tyrant: A Tragedy in Two Acts:
      a horse-leech, whose deep maw
      The plethoric King Swellfoot could not fill,
      And who, till full, will cling for ever.
    • 1842, Gibbons Merle; John Reitch, The Domestic Dictionary and Housekeeper’s Manual: Comprising Everything Related to Cookery, Diet, Economy and Medicine. By Gibbons Merle. The Medical Portion of the Work by John Reitch, M.D., London: William Strange, 21, Paternoster Row, OCLC 562334031, page 360, column 2:
      If the predisposition to the disease has arisen from a plethoric state of the system, or from a turgescence in the vessels of the head, this is to be obviated by bleeding, both generally and topically, but more particularly the latter; an abstemious diet and proper exercise; and by a seton in the neck.
    • 1941, W Somerset Maugham, Up at the Villa, Vintage 2004, p. 81:
      Harold Atkinson, her host, was a fine handsome grey-haired man, plethoric and somewhat corpulent, with an eye for a pretty woman […].
  2. Excessive, overabundant, rife; loosely, abundant, varied. [from 17th c.]
    • 1982, TC Boyle, Water Music, Penguin 2006, p. 161:
      the judges [...] were arranging their robes and coughing into their fists, the ebb and flow of their plethoric wigs like a flock of sheep on the run.

Related terms[edit]