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spleen

spleen The spleen was linked in past centuries to a variety of emotions, characteristics, or behaviours — usually spitefulness, bad temper, or melancholy, but also sometimes to general liveliness and explosive wit. In the seventeenth century Shakespeare provided many a quote, including the tag ‘spleeny Lutheran’. In the eighteenth century we have Addison's ‘touchy testy pleasant fellow’ with ‘so much Wit and Mirth and Spleen’, whilst less positively a ‘touch of the spleen’ was what we would now call psychosomatic illness. In the late nineteenth century the concept still survived in such whimsies as Gilbert's in Patience: ‘… a sentimental passion of a vegetable fashion must excite your languid spleen’. And ‘venting one's spleen’ has traditionally described a vituperative outburst.

There seems no good reason why the spleen should have deserved these associations — unlike, say, the heart which manifests its link with love by an increase in beating rate with excitement. The spleen is physiologically and anatomically unobtrusive. It is in fact — unusually in the body for an unpaired organ — dispensible. We can live without it because its functions can be taken over elsewhere. It is a small spongy purple mass in a fibrous capsule, tucked under the left side of the diaphragm (smaller than the liver which is tucked under the right side).

The spleen is in a way a poor relation among organs in that it is rarely in the public eye — not even on the butcher's counter. It is not susceptible to dramatic televisual imaging and it does not invite transplantation. It does however sometimes need to be removed: it can suffer hidden injury, for example in crushing or road traffic accidents, when its rupture can cause internal bleeding; other causes for splenectomy include some blood diseases.

Although we can do without it if necessary, the spleen does normally have important functions. In fetal life it is the site of red blood cell formation, until this is taken over by the bone marrow. It contributes to the immune system, forming antibodies and producing and storing masses of lymphocytes. It contains extensive channels and spaces (sinuses) where the blood flows slowly and where senescent red blood cells break down and are removed from the circulation. It therefore becomes enlarged in some infective, parasitic, and blood diseases.

The spleen acts to some extent as a blood reservoir, although this mechanism for increasing circulating blood volume is relatively minor and unimportant in humans compared with some other animals. The smooth muscle in its capsule is activated by the autonomic nervous system in conditions of ‘fight or flight’ or after blood loss, squirting a little extra blood into the circulation — which is perhaps the nearest physiological equivalent to the metaphoric ‘venting’.

Sheila Jennett


See lymphatic system.See also blood; humours; immune system.

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COLIN BLAKEMORE and SHELIA JENNETT. "spleen." The Oxford Companion to the Body. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

COLIN BLAKEMORE and SHELIA JENNETT. "spleen." The Oxford Companion to the Body. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O128-spleen.html

COLIN BLAKEMORE and SHELIA JENNETT. "spleen." The Oxford Companion to the Body. 2001. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O128-spleen.html

spleen

spleen, soft, purplish-red organ that lies under the diaphragm on the left side of the abdominal cavity. The spleen acts as a filter against foreign organisms that infect the bloodstream, and also filters out old red blood cells from the bloodstream and decomposes them. These functions are performed by phagocytic cells that are capable of engulfing and destroying bacteria, parasites, and debris. Ordinarily, the spleen manufactures red blood cells only toward the end of fetal life, and after birth that function is taken over by the bone marrow. However, in cases of bone marrow breakdown, the spleen reverts to its fetal function. The spleen also acts as a blood reservoir; during stress or at other times when additional blood is needed, the spleen contracts, forcing stored blood into circulation (see circulatory system). It is sometimes necessary to remove the spleen entirely, particularly in trauma cases, although recent studies have shown the spleen to be far more important than initially suspected in the fight against infection.

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"spleen." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"spleen." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-spleen.html

spleen

spleen (spleen) n. a large dark-red ovoid organ situated on the left side of the body below and behind the stomach. The spongy interior (pulp) of the spleen consists of lymphoid tissue within a meshwork of reticular fibres. The spleen is a major component of the reticuloendothelial system, producing lymphocytes in the newborn and containing phagocytes, which remove worn-out red blood cells and other foreign bodies from the bloodstream. Anatomical name: lien.
splenic (splen-ik) adj.

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"spleen." A Dictionary of Nursing. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spleen." A Dictionary of Nursing. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O62-spleen.html

"spleen." A Dictionary of Nursing. 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O62-spleen.html

spleen

spleen / splēn/ • n. 1. Anat. an abdominal organ involved in the production and removal of blood cells in most vertebrates and forming part of the immune system. 2. bad temper; spite: he could vent his spleen on the institutions that had duped him. DERIVATIVES: spleen·ful / -fəl/ adj. (in sense 2). ORIGIN: Middle English: shortening of Old French esplen, via Latin from Greek splēn.

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"spleen." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spleen." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-spleen.html

"spleen." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-spleen.html

spleen

spleen Dark-red organ located on the left side of the abdomen, behind and slightly below the stomach. It is important in both the lymphatic and blood systems, helping to process lymphocytes (white blood cells), destroying worn out or damaged erythrocytes (red blood cells) and storing iron. Removal of the spleen (splenectomy) is sometimes necessary following trauma or in the treatment of some blood disorders.

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"spleen." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spleen." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-spleen.html

"spleen." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-spleen.html

spleen

spleen gland in the abdomen anciently held to be the seat of (i) melancholy, (ii) mirth XIII; used of various emotions and states of mind XVI. Aphetic — OF. esplen — L. splēn — Gr. splḗn. Comp. spleenwort XVI; after L. splēnium, asplēnon — Gr.
So splenetic XVI. — late L. splēnēticus. splenic XVII. — L.- Gr.

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T. F. HOAD. "spleen." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

T. F. HOAD. "spleen." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O27-spleen.html

T. F. HOAD. "spleen." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O27-spleen.html

spleen

spleen A vertebrate organ, lying behind the stomach, that is basically a collection of lymphoid tissue. Its functions include producing lymphocytes and destroying foreign particles. It acts as a reservoir for erythrocytes and can regulate the number in circulation. It is also the site for the breakdown of worn-out erythrocytes and it stores the iron they contain.

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"spleen." A Dictionary of Biology. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spleen." A Dictionary of Biology. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O6-spleen.html

"spleen." A Dictionary of Biology. 2004. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O6-spleen.html

spleen

spleen Gland near the stomach with main function of destroying ‘worn‐out’ red blood cells and recycling the iron. As a food it is called melts; A 150‐g portion of calf spleen is a rich source of iron, vitamins B2, niacin, and C; a good source of vitamin A; contains 6 g of fat; supplies 150 kcal (630 kJ).

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DAVID A. BENDER. "spleen." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

DAVID A. BENDER. "spleen." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O39-spleen.html

DAVID A. BENDER. "spleen." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. 2005. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O39-spleen.html

spleen

spleen an abdominal organ involved in the production and removal of blood cells in most vertebrates and forming part of the immune system, which in earlier belief was held to be the seat of such emotions as bad temper and spite; spleen thus came to be used in these senses.

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ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "spleen." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "spleen." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O214-spleen.html

ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "spleen." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O214-spleen.html

spleen

spleen In vertebrates, an organ posterior to the stomach that produces lymphocytes (see LEUCOCYTE), destroys particles of foreign matter, and acts as a reservoir for red blood cells. It breaks down old red blood cells and stores iron from them.

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MICHAEL ALLABY. "spleen." A Dictionary of Zoology. 1999. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

MICHAEL ALLABY. "spleen." A Dictionary of Zoology. 1999. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O8-spleen.html

MICHAEL ALLABY. "spleen." A Dictionary of Zoology. 1999. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O8-spleen.html

Spleen

Spleen. Poem by Verlaine set for v. and pf. by Debussy, 1887–8, as No.6 of Ariettes oubliées and by Fauré, 1889, as No.3 of his Op.51.

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MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Spleen." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Spleen." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-Spleen.html

MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Spleen." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-Spleen.html

spleen

spleenAberdeen, Amin, aquamarine, baleen, bean, been, beguine, Benin, between, canteen, careen, Claudine, clean, contravene, convene, cuisine, dean, Dene, e'en, eighteen, fascine, fedayeen, fifteen, figurine, foreseen, fourteen, Francine, gean, gene, glean, gombeen, green, Greene, Halloween, intervene, Janine, Jean, Jeannine, Jolene, Kean, keen, Keene, Ladin, langoustine, latrine, lean, limousine, machine, Maclean, magazine, Malines, margarine, marine, Mascarene, Massine, Maxine, mean, Medellín, mesne, mien, Moline, moreen, mujahedin, Nadine, nankeen, Nazarene, Nene, nineteen, nougatine, obscene, palanquin, peen, poteen, preen, quean, queen, Rabin, Racine, ramin, ravine, routine, Sabine, saltine, sardine, sarin, sateen, scene, screen, seen, serene, seventeen, shagreen, shebeen, sheen, sixteen, spleen, spring-clean, squireen, Steen, submarine, supervene, tambourine, tangerine, teen, terrine, thirteen, transmarine, treen, tureen, Tyrrhene, ultramarine, umpteen, velveteen, wean, ween, Wheen, yean •soybean • buckbean

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"spleen." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spleen." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. (August 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-spleen.html

"spleen." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-spleen.html

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