Old English sponge, spunge, from Latin spongia "a sponge," also "sea animal from which a sponge comes," from Greek spongia, related to spongos "sponge," borrowed from an unknown source. The Latin word is the source of Old Saxon spunsia, Middle Dutch spongie, Old French esponge, Spanish esponja, Italian spugna. To throw in the sponge "quit, submit" (1860) is from prizefighting, in reference to the sponges used to cleanse the faces of combatants between rounds (cf. later throw in the towel). Sponge-cake is attested from 1808.
late 14c., "to soak up with a sponge," from sponge (n.). The slang sense of "to live in a parasitic manner" is attested from 1670s; sponger (n.) in this sense is from 1670s. Originally it was the victim who was known as the sponge (c.1600), because he or she was being "squeezed." Related: Sponged; sponging.
Any of numerous aquatic invertebrate animals of the phylum Porifera.
The light, fibrous, absorbent skeleton of certain of these organisms.
A piece of absorbent porous material, such as cellulose, plastic, or rubber, used especially for washing and cleaning.
A gauze pad used to absorb blood and other fluids, as in surgery or in dressing a wound.
A contraceptive sponge.
To concede defeat; give up; fold
[1940s+; fr the signal of surrender given by a defeated boxer's manager or associate when he tosses a sponge or a towel in the air or into the ring; found by 1960 in the form throw up the sponge]
occurs only in the narrative of the crucifixion (Matt. 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:29). It is ranked as a zoophyte. It is found attached to rocks at the bottom of the sea.