Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To eject from the mouth; spit.
  • transitive v. To cough up and eject by spitting.
  • intransitive v. To spit.
  • intransitive v. To clear out the chest and lungs by coughing up and spitting out matter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To cough up fluid from the lungs.
  • v. To spit.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To discharge matter from the lungs or throat by hawking and spitting; to spit.
  • transitive v. To eject from the trachea or lungs; to discharge, as phlegm or other matter, by coughing, hawking, and spitting; to spit forth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To eject from the trachea or lungs; discharge, as phlegm or other matter, by coughing or hawking and spitting; spit out.
  • To eject or reject as if by spitting; cast out or aside as useless or worthless.
  • To eject matter from the lungs or throat by coughing or hawking and spitting; by euphemism, to spit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. discharge (phlegm or sputum) from the lungs and out of the mouth
  • v. clear out the chest and lungs

Etymologies

Latin expectorāre, expectorāt-, to drive from the chest : ex-, ex- + pectus, pector-, chest.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin expectoratus, past participle of expectorare ("only fig. banish from the mind, but literally (as in modern use) expel from the breast"), from ex ("out of") + pectus ("the breast"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But according to the insta-polls, the electorate, as opposed to what I once called the expectorate, seems to have concluded fairly clearly that Biden “won,” possibly because what the electorate was expecting was a debate between two candidates for Vice-President, not the raw materials for some arcane calculation of who exceeded whose expectations.

    Sara Palin: The Republican Vice-Presidential nominee with near-normal intelligence

  • But according to the insta-polls, the electorate, as opposed to what I once called the expectorate, seems to have concluded fairly clearly that Biden "won," possibly because what the electorate was expecting was a debate between two candidates for Vice-President, not the raw materials for some arcane calculation of who exceeded whose expectations.

    The Richmond Democrat

  • And in a usage book he published a few years ago, Bill Bryson contended that it was wrong to use "expectorate" as a synonym for "spit," since it really means to cough up phlegm from the chest.

    'Equation,' 'Gingerly' And Other Linguistic Pet Peeves

  • It just means you need to really stop and ask yourself whether you want to use the word 'expectorate' when what you mean is 'spit.'

    seanan_mcguire: Write! Right? Fifty thoughts on writing.

  • Then they gave it up, and passed a law making it a statutory offense, with heavy fines, for any one to "expectorate" on the sidewalk or anywhere else where the saliva could be swept up by the trains of the women of nearly all classes who followed the fashion.

    As A Chinaman Saw Us Passages from his Letters to a Friend at Home

  • In this telling of the tale, the Respectorate is defeated by the land of Oh-Tee-Tee, "whose denizens, the Otters, are devoted to all forms of excess", and who are led by Soraya, the Insultana of Ott, with her battle-cry "We expectorate on the Respectorate!"

    Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie - review

  • Think of the mischief it would work with Major League Baseball's rule 8.02, which says that the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball.

    'Equation,' 'Gingerly' And Other Linguistic Pet Peeves

  • At each corner, therefore, he would pause to cough and expectorate so ferociously that I sometimes wondered whether he had come to pray or just to spit!

    The Natural World

  • We have seen this national agenda expectorate into the world of sports.

    Dave Zirin: The Summer of Our Sporting Discontent

  • Gragelouth simply could not bring himself to do more than occasionally expectorate on the cell floor.

    The Lives of Felix Gunderson

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