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Etymology 1[edit]

From Old English spitu, from Proto-Germanic *spituz.


spit ‎(plural spits)

  1. A rod on which meat is grilled (UK English) or broiled (US English).
  2. A narrow, pointed, usually sandy peninsula.
  3. The depth to which a spade goes in digging; a spade; a spadeful.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Halliwell to this entry?)


spit ‎(third-person singular simple present spits, present participle spitting, simple past and past participle spitted)

  1. To impale on a spit.
    to spit a loin of veal
    • Shakespeare
      infants spitted upon pikes
  2. To attend to a spit; to use a spit.
    She's spitting in the kitchen.
  3. To spade; to dig.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English spete, from Old English spittan, from Proto-Germanic (compare Danish spytte, Swedish spotta), from Proto-Indo-European *sp(y)ēw, *spyū [1], of imitiative origin (see spew)[2]

In the Wycliffe Bible (Middle English), one finds spete (infinitive), spetyng (gerund), spetide (past), and spete (past participle).


spit ‎(third-person singular simple present spits, present participle spitting, simple past and past participle spat or spit) The past tense and past participle spit are the more common forms used by speakers in America, but they are also used often enough by speakers of British and Commonwealth English to be listed as alternative forms by Collins and the Oxford Online Dictionaries. It is an older form. A non-standard past participle form is spitten.

  1. (intransitive, transitive) To evacuate (saliva or another substance) from the mouth.
    1611, Bible (KJV), Mark 8:23:
    And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
    The teacher told her to spit out her bubble gum.
    • 1994, Stephen Fry, The Hippopotamus Chapter 2
      At the very moment he cried out, David realised that what he had run into was only the Christmas tree. Disgusted with himself at such cowardice, he spat a needle from his mouth, stepped back from the tree and listened. There were no sounds of any movement upstairs: no shouts, no sleepy grumbles, only a gentle tinkle from the decorations as the tree had recovered from the collision.
  2. To rain or snow slightly, or with sprinkles.
    • Charles Dickens
      It had been spitting with rain.
  3. (transitive) To utter violently.
  4. (transitive, slang, hip-hop) To utter.
    • 2005, Giselle Zado Wasfie, So Fly
      A group of black guys were spitting rhymes in the corner, slapping hands and egging one another on.
Derived terms[edit]
Usage notes[edit]
  • Spit as the past form is common only in the US, while spat is common everywhere.


spit ‎(countable and uncountable, plural spits)

  1. (uncountable) Saliva, especially when expectorated.
    There was spit all over the washbasin.
  2. (countable) An instance of spitting.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.



  1. ^ Ayto, John, Dictionary of Word Origins, Arcade Publishing, New York, 1990
  2. ^ spew, Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper