Meaning of rheum in English:


Pronunciation /ruːm/


mass nounmainly literary
  • 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When Morgan lifts his glasses to wipe the rheum from his eyes it seems there is nothing crueller than ageing.’


Late Middle English from Old French reume, via Latin from Greek rheuma ‘stream’ (from rhein ‘to flow’).