[ spuhnj ]
See synonyms for: spongespongingspongelike on Thesaurus.com

  1. any aquatic, chiefly marine animal of the phylum Porifera, having a porous structure and usually a horny, siliceous or calcareous internal skeleton or framework, occurring in large, sessile colonies.

  2. the light, yielding, porous, fibrous skeleton or framework of certain animals or colonies of this group, especially of the genera Spongia and Hippospongia, from which the living matter has been removed, characterized by readily absorbing water and becoming soft when wet while retaining toughness: used in bathing, in wiping or cleaning surfaces, etc.

  1. any of various other similar substances, often porous rubber or cellulose, used for washing or cleaning.

  2. a person or thing that absorbs something freely: His mind is a sponge gathering historical data.

  3. a person who persistently borrows from or lives at the expense of others; sponger; parasite.

  4. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. a habitual drinker of alcohol who is frequently intoxicated.

  5. Metallurgy. a porous mass of metallic particles, as of platinum, obtained by the reduction of an oxide or purified compound at a temperature below the melting point.

  6. Surgery. a sterile surgical dressing of absorbent material, usually cotton gauze, for wiping or absorbing pus, blood, or other fluids during a surgical operation.

  7. Cooking.

    • dough raised with yeast, especially before kneading, as for bread.

    • a light, sweet pudding of a porous texture, made with gelatin, eggs, fruit juice or other flavoring material, etc.

  8. a disposable piece of polyurethane foam permeated with a spermicide for insertion into the vagina as a contraceptive.

verb (used with object),sponged, spong·ing.
  1. to wipe or rub with or as with a wet sponge, as to moisten or clean.

  2. to remove with or as with a wet sponge (usually followed by off, away, etc.).

  1. to wipe out or efface with or as with a sponge (often followed by out).

  2. to take up or absorb with or as with a sponge (often followed by up): to sponge up water.

  3. to borrow, use, or obtain by imposing on another's good nature, friendship, hospitality, or the like: He sponged 40 bucks from his friend and went to the city.

  4. Ceramics. to decorate (a ceramic object) by dabbing at it with a sponge soaked with color.

verb (used without object),sponged, spong·ing.
  1. to take in or soak up liquid by absorption.

  2. to gather sponges.

  1. to live at the expense of others (often followed by on or off): He came back home and sponged off his family for a while.

Idioms about sponge

  1. throw in the sponge, Informal. to concede defeat; yield; give up: The early election returns were heavily against him, but he wasn't ready to throw in the sponge.

Origin of sponge

First recorded before 1000; Middle English noun sponge, spunge, spounge, Old English noun sponge, spunge, from Latin spongia, spongea, from Greek spongiā́; verb from the noun

Other words for sponge

Other words from sponge

  • sponge·less, adjective
  • sponge·like, adjective
  • spong·ing·ly, adverb
  • un·sponged, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use sponge in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sponge


/ (spʌndʒ) /

  1. any multicellular typically marine animal of the phylum Porifera, usually occurring in complex sessile colonies in which the porous body is supported by a fibrous, calcareous, or siliceous skeletal framework

  2. a piece of the light porous highly absorbent elastic skeleton of certain sponges, used in bathing, cleaning, etc: See also spongin

  1. any of a number of light porous elastic materials resembling a sponge

  2. another word for sponger (def. 1)

  3. informal a person who indulges in heavy drinking

  4. leavened dough, esp before kneading

  5. Also called: sponge pudding British a light steamed or baked pudding, spongy in texture, made with various flavourings or fruit

  6. porous metal produced by electrolysis or by reducing a metal compound without fusion or sintering and capable of absorbing large quantities of gas: platinum sponge

  7. a rub with a sponge

  8. throw in the sponge See throw in (def. 4)

  1. (tr; often foll by off or down) to clean (something) by wiping or rubbing with a damp or wet sponge

  2. (tr; usually foll by off, away, out, etc) to remove (marks, etc) by rubbing with a damp or wet sponge or cloth

  1. (when tr, often foll by up) to absorb (liquids, esp when spilt) in the manner of a sponge

  2. (tr often foll by off) to get (something) from (someone) by presuming on his generosity: to sponge a meal off someone

  3. (intr; often foll by off or on) to obtain one's subsistence, welfare, etc, unjustifiably (from): he sponges off his friends

  4. (intr) to go collecting sponges

Origin of sponge

Old English, from Latin spongia, from Greek

Derived forms of sponge

  • spongelike, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for sponge


[ spŭnj ]

  1. Any of numerous aquatic, chiefly marine invertebrate animals of the phylum Porifera. Sponges characteristically have a porous skeleton, usually containing an intricate system of canals, that is composed of fibrous material or siliceous or calcareous spicules. Water passing through the pores brings food to the organism. Sponges live in all depths of the sea, are sessile, and often form irregularly shaped colonies attached to an underwater surface. Sponges are considered the most primitive members of the animal kingdom, since they lack a nervous system and differentiated body tissues or organs. Adults do not have moving parts, but the larvae are free-swimming. Sponges have great regenerative capacities, with some species able to regenerate a complete adult organism from fragments as small as a single cell. Sponges first appear during the early Cambrian Period and may have evolved from protozoa. Also called poriferan See Note at regeneration.

  2. The light, fibrous, flexible, absorbent skeleton of certain of these organisms, used for bathing, cleaning, and other purposes.

  1. A piece of porous plastic, rubber, cellulose, or other material, similar in absorbency to this skeleton and used for the same purposes.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with sponge


In addition to the idiom beginning with sponge

  • sponge on

also see:

  • throw in the sponge

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.