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verb (used without object), spit or spat, spit·ting.
  1. to eject saliva from the mouth; expectorate.
  2. to express hatred, contempt, etc., by or as if by ejecting saliva from the mouth.
  3. to sputter: grease spitting on the fire.
  4. to fall in scattered drops or flakes, as rain or snow.
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verb (used with object), spit or spat, spit·ting.
  1. to eject from the mouth: The children were spitting watermelon seeds over the fence.
  2. to throw out or emit like saliva: The kettle spits boiling water over the stove.
  3. to set a flame to.
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  1. saliva, especially when ejected.
  2. the act of spitting.
  3. Entomology. Also called spittle. the frothy secretion exuded by spittlebugs.
  4. a light fall of rain or snow.
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Verb Phrases
  1. spit up, to vomit; throw up: The wounded soldier spat up blood. If you jostle the baby, she'll spit up.
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  1. spit and image, Informal. exact likeness; counterpart: Hunched over his desk, pen in hand, he was the spit and image of his father at work.Also spitting image, spit 'n' image.
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Origin of spit1

before 950; (v.) Middle English spitten, Old English spittan; cognate with German (dial.) spitzen to spit; akin to Old English spǣtan to spit, spātl spittle; (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related formsspit·like, adjective


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  1. a pointed rod or bar for thrusting through and holding meat that is to be cooked before or over a fire.
  2. any of various rods, pins, or the like used for particular purposes.
  3. a narrow point of land projecting into the water.
  4. a long, narrow shoal extending from the shore.
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verb (used with object), spit·ted, spit·ting.
  1. to pierce, stab, or transfix, as with a spit; impale on something sharp.
  2. to thrust a spit into or through.
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Origin of spit2

before 1000; Middle English spite, Old English spitu; cognate with Middle Dutch, Middle Low German spit, spet, Old High German spiz spit; akin to Old Norse spīta peg
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for spitting


verb spits, spitting, spat or spit
  1. (intr) to expel saliva from the mouth; expectorate
  2. (intr) informal to show disdain or hatred by spitting
  3. (of a fire, hot fat, etc) to eject (fragments of coal, sparks, etc) violently and with an explosive sound; splutter
  4. (intr) to rain very lightly
  5. (tr often foll by out) to eject or discharge (something) from the mouthhe spat the food out; to spit blood
  6. (tr often foll by out) to utter (short sharp words or syllables), esp in a violent manner
  7. spit chips Australian slang to be very angryAlso (NZ): spit tacks
  8. spit it out! British informal a command given to someone that he should speak forthwith
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  1. another name for spittle
  2. a light or brief fall of rain, snow, etc
  3. the act or an instance of spitting
  4. informal, mainly British another word for spitting image
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Derived Formsspitter, noun

Word Origin

Old English spittan; related to spǣtan to spit, German dialect spitzen


  1. a pointed rod on which meat is skewered and roasted before or over an open fire
  2. Also called: rotisserie, rotating spit a similar device rotated by electricity or clockwork, fitted onto a cooker
  3. an elongated often hooked strip of sand or shingle projecting from the shore, deposited by longshore drift, and usually above water
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verb spits, spitting or spitted
  1. (tr) to impale on or transfix with or as if with a spit
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Word Origin

Old English spitu; related to Old High German spiz spit, Norwegian spit tip


  1. the depth of earth cut by a spade; a spade's depth
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Word Origin

C16: from Middle Dutch and Middle Low German spit
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 spitting



"expel saliva," Old English spittan (Anglian), spætan (West Saxon), from PIE *sp(y)eu-, of imitative origin (see spew). Not the usual Old English word for this; spætlan (see spittle) and spiwan (see spew) are more common. Meaning "to eject saliva (at someone or something) as a gesture of contempt" is in Old English.

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"sharp-pointed rod on which meat is roasted," Old English spitu, from Proto-Germanic *spituz (cf. Middle Dutch spit, Swedish spett, Old High German spiz, German Spieß "spit," German spitz "pointed"), from PIE *spei- "sharp point" (see spike (n.1)). This is also the source of the word meaning "sandy point" (1670s). Old French espois, Spanish espeto "spit" are Germanic loan-words. The verb meaning "to put on a spit" is recorded from c.1200.

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"saliva," c.1300, from spit (v.). Meaning "the very likeness" is attested from c.1600 (e.g. spitting image, attested from 1901); cf. French craché in same sense. Military phrase spit and polish first recorded 1895.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper