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  1. Metallurgy.
    1. an opening through which molten metal is poured into a mold.
    2. the waste metal left in this opening after casting.
  2. Metalworking. a channel in a forging die permitting the die to clear that part of the rough piece not being forged.
verb (used with object), sprued, spru·ing.
  1. to cut the sprues from (a casting).

Origin of sprue1

First recorded in 1820–30; origin uncertain


noun Pathology.
  1. a chronic disease, occurring chiefly in the tropics, resulting from malabsorption of nutrients from the small intestine and characterized by diarrhea, ulceration of the mucous membrane of the digestive tract, and a smooth, shining tongue; psilosis.

Origin of sprue2

1815–25; < Dutch spruw; cognate with Middle Low German sprūwe tumor
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sprue

Historical Examples

  • There is a strange story told in Shanghai about a certain remedy for a horrible disease called "sprue."

    Changing China

    William Gascoyne-Cecil

  • Some tops of sprue grass may be boiled in a little stock till tender, and rubbed through a tamis.

    The Art of Cookery

    John Mollard

British Dictionary definitions for sprue


  1. a vertical channel in a mould through which plastic or molten metal is introduced or out of which it flows when the mould is filled
  2. plastic or metal that solidifies in a sprue

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin


  1. a chronic disease, esp of tropical climates, characterized by flatulence, diarrhoea, frothy foul-smelling stools, and emaciation

Word Origin

C19: from Dutch spruw; related to Middle Low German sprüwe tumour


  1. East London dialect an inferior type of asparagus

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sprue


c.1830, of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sprue in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. A chronic disease that is characterized by diarrhea, steatorrhea, emaciation, and anemia, caused by defective absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract.psilosis
  2. Wax or metal used to form the pathway for forcing molten metal into a mold in the making of a dental casting.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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