froth at the mouth

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An illustration of a dog with rabies frothing at the mouth, from the collection of the Wellcome Library in London, England, UK



froth at the mouth (third-person singular simple present froths at the mouth, present participle frothing at the mouth, simple past and past participle frothed at the mouth)

  1. To spew saliva as froth.
    • [1877], Anna Sewell, “A Strike for Liberty”, in Black Beauty: [], London: Jarrold and Sons, [], →OCLC, part II, page 109:
      What I suffered with that rein for four long months in my lady's carriage, it would be hard to describe, but I am quite sure that, had it lasted much longer, either my health or my temper would have given way. Before that, I never knew what it was to foam at the mouth, but now the action of the sharp bit on my tongue and jaw, and the constrained position of my head and throat, always caused me to froth at the mouth more or less.
    • 1951 November 5, “Manners & Morals: Americana”, in Time[1], archived from the original on 23 November 2010:
      Police said that he bought a 54-gallon drum of poisonous methyl alcohol, often used for hot-rod fuel, and mixed it with well water, peach flavoring, regular moonshine and a "beading oil" calculated to make it foam when shaken. Seventy-seven gallons were delivered. Within hours Atlanta's Grady Negro Clinic began to fill with men and women who panted, frothed at the mouth and writhed in horrible convulsions.
    • 1963 August 15, “[Trends and Discoveries:] Nitrate Poisoning in Ruminants”, in New Scientist, volume 19, number 352, London: New Science Publications, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 348, column 3:
      The symptoms of acute nitrate poisoning are quite characteristic provided the affected animals are not disturbed. In the early stages the animal stops eating, froths at the mouth and has abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
  2. (figurative) To rage, to vent one's anger.
    She was almost frothing at the mouth when she heard about the cost of the car repairs.
    • 1977, Richard Adams, “Friday the 15th October”, in The Plague Dogs, London: Allen Lane, →ISBN; republished Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books in association with Rex Collings Ltd and Allen Lane, 1978, →ISBN, page 42:
      'Damn the Whitecoats!' cried Snitter, frothing at the mouth. 'Damn Annie, damn the policeman and the white bell-car! Damn you all, damn you! You've killed my master!'