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From Old English spunge, from Latin spongia, from Ancient Greek σπογγιά (spongiá), related to σπόγγος (spóngos).


  • enPR: spŭnj, IPA(key): /spʌnd͡ʒ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌndʒ


sponge (countable and uncountable, plural sponges)

A marine sponge can be used as a washing sponge
  1. (countable) Any of various marine invertebrates, mostly of the phylum Porifera, that have a porous skeleton often of silica.
  2. (countable) A piece of porous material used for washing (originally made from the invertebrates, now often made of plastic).
    • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 5, in Lord Stranleigh Abroad[1]:
      She removed Stranleigh’s coat with a dexterity that aroused his imagination. The elder woman returned with dressings and a sponge, which she placed on a chair.
  3. (uncountable) A porous material such as sponges consist of.
  4. (informal) A heavy drinker.
  5. (countable, uncountable) A type of light cake; sponge cake.
  6. (countable, uncountable, Britain) A type of steamed pudding.
  7. (slang) A person who takes advantage of the generosity of others (abstractly imagined to absorb or soak up the money or efforts of others like a sponge).
  8. (countable) A form of contraception that is inserted vaginally; a contraceptive sponge.
  9. Any sponge-like substance.
    1. Dough before it is kneaded and formed into loaves, and after it is converted into a light, spongy mass by the agency of the yeast or leaven.
    2. Iron from the puddling furnace, in a pasty condition.
    3. Iron ore, in masses, reduced but not melted or worked.
  10. A mop for cleaning the bore of a cannon after a discharge. It consists of a cylinder of wood, covered with sheepskin with the wool on, or cloth with a heavy looped nap, and having a handle, or staff.
  11. The extremity, or point, of a horseshoe, corresponding to the heel.


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sponge (third-person singular simple present sponges, present participle sponging, simple past and past participle sponged)

  1. (intransitive, slang) To take advantage of the kindness of others.
    • L'Estrange
      The fly is an intruder, and a common smell-feast, that sponges upon other people's trenchers.
    He has been sponging off his friends for a month now.
  2. (transitive) To get by imposition; to scrounge.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 13, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “[…] They talk of you as if you were Croesus—and I expect the beggars sponge on you unconscionably.” And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes.
      (Can we find and add a quotation of Jonathan Swift to this entry?)
    to sponge a breakfast
  3. (transitive) To deprive (somebody) of something by imposition.
    • South
      How came such multitudes of our nation [] to be sponged of their plate and their money?
  4. To clean, soak up, or dab with a sponge.
  5. To suck in, or imbibe, like a sponge.
  6. To wipe out with a sponge, as letters or writing; to efface; to destroy all trace of.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Hooker to this entry?)
  7. (intransitive) To be converted, as dough, into a light, spongy mass by the agency of yeast or leaven.