One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
- ‘Four brass cuspidors were positioned at the base of each beam, and at a safe distance from the breaking end of the table was a wood stove that glowed red hot at times in the winter.’
- ‘Before leaving the ward he picked up the cuspidor from a cabinet at the head of the bed, opened the lid and observed frothy white spittle that lacked any distinctive odor.’
- ‘He'd be awfully sorry after he accidentally walloped her on the head with a cuspidor, but she'd still have the aching noggin.’
- ‘Therefore, litterbugs and those accustomed to spitting on the pavement no longer dare to give free rein to their impulses or else they'd better take along with them a waste-paper basket or a cuspidor whenever they opt for a stroll.’
Mid 18th century: from Portuguese, ‘spitter’, from cuspir ‘to spit’, from Latin conspuere.
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