Definitions

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

  • n. Matter coughed up and usually ejected from the mouth, including saliva, foreign material, and substances such as mucus or phlegm, from the respiratory tract.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Matter coughed up and expectorated from the mouth, composed of saliva and discharges from the respiratory passages such as mucus, phlegm or pus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which is expectorated; a salival discharge; spittle; saliva.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Spittle; a salival discharge from the mouth.
  • n. In pathology, that which is expectorated or ejected from the lungs: used also in the plural, in designation of the individual masses.

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

  • n. expectorated matter; saliva mixed with discharges from the respiratory passages; in ancient and medieval physiology it was believed to cause sluggishness

Etymologies

Latin spūtum, from neuter past participle of spuere, to spit.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From New Latin, from Latin sputum ("that which is spit out, spittle"), from spuere ("to spit"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But Andrew Speaker here has, over the last three days, has undergone a series of what they call sputum tests, which essentially requires him to drink salt water and then cough into a tube and then take samples from inside that tube and look for that TB infection.

    CNN Transcript Jun 4, 2007

  • Katie ` s spokesman says she read the skip beforehand but the word sputum was inserted afterwards and she mispronounced it, "spa-tum" on the air, which explains why she was annoyed at the writer.

    CNN Transcript Jul 10, 2007

  • Katie's spokesman said she read the script beforehand but the word sputum was inserted afterwards and she mispronounced it sputum on the air, which explains why she was annoyed at the writer.

    CNN Transcript Jul 9, 2007

  • This can only happen with the establishment of centres where the patient's sputum is examined without cost for tubercle bacilli.

    Robert Koch - Nobel Lecture

  • "Couric got angry with news editor Jerry Cipriano for using a word she detested - 'sputum' - and the staff got tense when she began slapping him over and over and over again on the arm."

    CNN Transcript Jul 9, 2007

  • The technique, known as sputum microscopy, calls for sticking a piece of bloody phlegm under a microscope, adding a stain, and looking for the bacteria.

    You've Got Drug-Resistant TB! The Ultimate Diagnostic Device.

  • Another one is something called a sputum test, or a smear test they call it, as well, where you actually cough or something into -- you induce a cough and cough on to a little dish.

    CNN Transcript Jun 1, 2007

  • Number two is they do something called a sputum test, where they actually look at the saliva to determine if the bacteria is in there.

    CNN Transcript Jun 5, 2007

  • Also, if he had had what's known as a sputum test, which is an important.

    CNN Transcript May 30, 2007

  • He also had what's known as a sputum or smear test looking at whether or not he was actually having the bacteria on -- coming out of his breath.

    CNN Transcript May 30, 2007

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