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”). Doublet of lien. Partially displaced the native English term milt.
- (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.
- (archaic, except in the set phrase "to vent one's spleen") A bad mood; spitefulness.
- 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.
- (obsolete, rare) A sudden motion or action; a fit; a freak; a whim.
- 1593, [William Shakespeare], Venvs and Adonis, London: […] Richard Field, […], OCLC 837166078; Shakespeare’s Venvs & Adonis: […], 4th edition, London: J[oseph] M[alaby] Dent and Co. […], 1896, OCLC 19803734:
- 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
- (obsolete) Melancholy; hypochondriacal affections.
- A fit of immoderate laughter or merriment.
- c. 1601–1602, William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or VVhat You VVill”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii]:
- By virtue, thou enforcest laughter ; thy silly thought, my spleen
- (obsolete, transitive) To dislike.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Bishop Hacket to this entry?)
spleen m (plural spleens)