One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A watery fluid that collects in or drips from the nose or eyes.
- ‘The mouth of the pig is open and she sees a row of small wet teeth as the head moves round towards her and there is something damp, like rheum, on both its cheeks.’
- ‘Using breath spray to hide the smell of booze and an eyedropper to clear the rheum, Galvin proceeds to a wake, where he waits in line to console the bereaved widow - then hands her his card.’
- ‘When Morgan lifts his glasses to wipe the rheum from his eyes it seems there is nothing crueller than ageing.’
- ‘The ease with which she climbed suggested a much younger woman, as did her eyes, which were clear and alert, free of the rheum typical of the aged.’
- ‘Again, with container in hand, Ellsbeth drank; there was a look of calm peace through the rheum that had settled like cobwebs across her pupils.’
Late Middle English: from Old French reume, via Latin from Greek rheuma ‘stream’ (from rhein ‘to flow’).
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