One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A mixture of saliva and mucus coughed up from the respiratory tract, typically as a result of infection or other disease and often examined microscopically to aid medical diagnosis.
spittle, saliva, slaver, slobber, dribble, droolView synonyms
- ‘He noted that his chronic, dry cough had produced discolored sputum in recent days.’
- ‘Analysis of sputum can indicate what disease process may be present in the lungs.’
- ‘Four days prior to admission, she developed a cough productive of whitish sputum.’
- ‘Blood-streaked sputum deserves the same diagnostic consideration as blood alone.’
- ‘Children may contract enterovirus by direct contact with saliva, sputum or nasal mucus from infected persons.’
Late 17th century: from Latin, neuter past participle of spuere ‘to spit’.
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