verb (used without object), ex·pec·to·rat·ed, ex·pec·to·rat·ing.

to eject or expel matter, as phlegm, from the throat or lungs by coughing or hawking and spitting; spit.

verb (used with object), ex·pec·to·rat·ed, ex·pec·to·rat·ing.

to eject or expel (matter) in this way.


Nearby words

  1. expected frequency,
  2. expected utility,
  3. expected value,
  4. expecting,
  5. expectorant,
  6. expectoration,
  7. expediate,
  8. expedience,
  9. expediency,
  10. expedient

Origin of expectorate

1595–1605; < Latin expectorātus (past participle of expectorāre to expel from the breast), equivalent to ex- ex-1 + pector- (stem of pectus) breast + -ātus -ate1

Related formsex·pec·to·ra·tor, nounun·ex·pec·to·rat·ed, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for expectorate

British Dictionary definitions for expectorate



to cough up and spit out (sputum from the respiratory passages)
Derived Formsexpectoration, nounexpectorator, noun

Word Origin for expectorate

C17: from Latin expectorāre, literally: to drive from the breast, expel, from pectus breast

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 expectorate



c.1600, "to clear out the chest or lungs," from Latin expectoratus, past participle of expectorare "scorn, expel from the mind," literally "make a clean breast," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + pectus (genitive pectoris) "breast" (see pectoral (adj.)). Use as a euphemism for "spit" is first recorded 1827. Original sense in expectorant. Related: Expectorated; expectorating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for expectorate




To eject saliva, mucus, or other body fluid from the mouth; spit.
To clear out the chest and lungs by coughing up and spitting out matter.
Related formsex•pec′to•ration n.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.