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(pronounced fleg-mat-ik)  adjective


having a slow and calm temperament; hard to excite or rouse to action; sluggish; showing little or no feeling or emotion; apathetic; stolid.

Main Example

  • Are you strong enough to watch images that will arouse sympathy in the heart of even the most phlegmatic? Then click on this short clip which depicts the indescribable suffering of children in Yemen. The primary cause of this humanitarian crisis, the worst since WWII? The incessant and indiscriminate bombing by Saudi Arabia. [So grave is the crisis that, in an unprecedented act, eight of the world’s largest international relief agencies have joined forces to fight it. Please help by donating to the new umbrella organization--the Global Emergency Response Coalition.]

Workplace Examples

  • I’m glad we picked Jodie to be our new counselor. She really knows how to deal with people in distress. Her predecessor, Courtney, came across as being so detached and phlegmatic that some of our clients felt as if they were talking to a brick wall.
  • Do you remember that accident a few years ago near downtown Houston, when an 18-wheeler struck an SUV and started a raging fire in which the SUV driver--a corporate executive--and his three young children were burnt to death? The images of those kids desperately trying to escape the burning vehicle were so horrific that even some of the rescue personnel, who are a pretty hardy and phlegmatic lot because of the nature of their job, wept and needed grief counseling.

Other Examples

  • to illustrate the significance of nonverbal communication skills, this author telling his audience: “In a case involving a very sick boy in Houston who wasn’t given any aid at a nearby fire station and who later died, it was the fire chief’s phlegmatic response during a subsequent TV interview that got him into trouble with the community.”
  • the New England Patriots’ phlegmatic head coach Bill Belichick who is always stone-faced during a game, even when his team scores a touchdown or one is scored against them; somebody with a phlegmatic voice; movie star Humphrey Bogart often playing a character who could best be described as a Mr. Phlegmatic
  • despite a spate of terrorist bombings in a major Pakistani city, the people being quite phlegmatic about how they go about their lives
  • The next time you visit a zoo, be sure to check out the siamangs. If you are lucky, these wondrous apes will launch into one of their bouts of overwhelmingly loud and resounding howls which visibly affect even the most phlegmatic.

© 2018 V.J. Singal
No part of this may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.

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