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:
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”. Answers.com tells me:
phlegâ€¢matâ€¢ic (flÄ•g-mÄƒt’Äk) also phlegâ€¢matâ€¢iâ€¢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
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?
(of a person) having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition.
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.