[spyoo-tuh m]
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noun, plural spu·ta [spyoo-tuh] /ˈspyu tə/.
  1. matter, as saliva mixed with mucus or pus, expectorated from the lungs and respiratory passages.

Origin of sputum

1685–95; < Latin spūtum, noun use of neuter of spūtus, past participle of spuere to spit, equivalent to spū- variant stem + -tus past participle suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sputum

froth, slaver, drool, dribble, slobber, sputum, spittle, water, discharge

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Historical Examples of sputum

British Dictionary definitions for sputum


noun plural -ta (-tə)
  1. a mass of salivary matter ejected from the mouth
  2. saliva ejected from the mouth mixed with mucus or pus exuded from the respiratory passages, as in bronchitis or bronchiectasis

Word Origin for sputum

C17: from Latin: spittle, from spuere to spit out
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 sputum

1690s, from Latin sputum, noun use of neuter past participle of spuere "to spit" (see spew).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sputum in Medicine


n. pl. spu•ta (-tə)
  1. Matter coughed up and usually expelled from the mouth, especially mucus or mucopurulent matter expectorated in diseases of the air passages.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.