Not so smart guy

I was perusing the inter-web today when I stumbled across “How’s your vocabulary?” Thinking myself the erudite one, I of course took the test. When I received my score, I was flabbergasted, as instead of getting a perfect score, I got an A-.



So I went back and reviewed my answers. None of them seemed wrong. Then I got to number 12. Number 12 asked

Someone who is phlegmatic is:

  • Unemotional
  • Sick
  • Polite

Well, “phlegm”… the mucous discharge you have when you have a cold… so you’re sick… that’s my final answer.

I decided to check the dictionary. Off to Google, plug in “phlegmatic”, click “definition”. tells me:

phleg•mat•ic (flÄ•g-măt’Ä­k) also phleg•mat•i•cal (-Ä­-kÉ™l)

1. Of or relating to phlegm; phlegmy.

Right there… first definition… related to phlegm. And the phlegm definition of course says

phlegm (fləm)

1. Thick, sticky, stringy mucus secreted by the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, as during a cold or other respiratory infection.

Well then, case closed! I must have gotten something else wrong.

But wait… there was another definition for phlegmatic:

2. Having or suggesting a calm, sluggish temperament; unemotional.

What? That would mean instead of “Sick” it might be “Unemotional”. Hm… I choose that option and resubmit the test and, sure enough, I get an A score.

OK, hold up.

You’re giving a vocabulary test, and for one of the questions, you choose a word with two meanings, and then give both of those meanings? And when I choose the one you didn’t want, I get penalized?

That’s just wrong.

So I do some more digging. Let’s see… how about the built-in dictionary in Mac OS X?

phlegmatic |fleg’matik|
(of a person) having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition.


phleg•mat•ic [fleg-mat-ik]
1. not easily excited to action or display of emotion; apathetic; sluggish.
2. self-possessed, calm, or composed.
3. of the nature of or abounding in the humor phlegm.


OK, what about Wikipedia?

A phlegmatic person is calm and unemotional.


Phlegmatic, as it apparently is normally used, is one of the four humours, defined by our Greek friend Hippocrates.

Damn. I hate being wrong.

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!

You must be quite an erudite person.