Last week LB talked about overthink and an article in justpublishingadvice.com about using commas with the word “because.” This week we’re happy to present another article from the site, this one about the origins of the phrase, “Vent your spleen.”
Overthink again? Undoubtedly. But informative as hell. We hope you’ll agree.
by Derek Haines
The origin of the idiom to vent your spleen dates back to Hippocrates in 400BC.
The belief endured until the nineteenth century that four bodily fluids controlled physical and mental qualities.
Blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile were called humours. The word humour, or humor in US spelling, derives from Latin, meaning liquid or fluid.
It was yellow bile, which was thought to be responsible for anger and restlessness that the idiom vent one’s spleen derives….
The four humours and the spleen
In medieval science and medicine, balancing the four bodily fluids was believed to lead to good physical and mental health.
For example, too much yellow bile could induce a fever by making the body hot and dry.
The treatment was to eat more cold foods like lettuce or cucumber, which were wet and cool.
By doing so, it helped to redress the imbalance in the humours.
But it was the importance of emotions and characteristics that led to the anger idiom.
The table below shows how the four humours were believed to affect temperament and personal characteristics.
But for the origins of the idiom, it was the yellow bile that was defined as choleric, meaning bad-tempered or irritable.
If the body produced too much yellow bile, it could lead to a person becoming angry very easily.
Now we are getting close to the origin of vent your spleen….
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