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

  • n. Any of numerous aquatic, chiefly marine invertebrate animals of the phylum Porifera, characteristically having a porous skeleton composed of fibrous material or siliceous or calcareous spicules and often forming irregularly shaped colonies attached to an underwater surface.
  • n. The light, fibrous, flexible, absorbent skeleton of certain of these organisms, used for bathing, cleaning, and other purposes.
  • n. Porous plastics, rubber, cellulose, or other material, similar in absorbency to this skeleton and used for the same purposes.
  • n. Metal in a porous, brittle form, as after the removal of other metals in processing, used as a raw material in manufacturing.
  • n. A gauze pad used to absorb blood and other fluids, as in surgery or the dressing of a wound.
  • n. A small absorbent contraceptive pad that contains a spermicide and is placed against the cervix of the uterus before sexual intercourse.
  • n. Dough that has been or is being leavened.
  • n. A light cake, such as sponge cake.
  • n. A sponge bath.
  • n. One who habitually depends on others for one's own maintenance.
  • n. Informal A glutton.
  • n. Slang A drunkard.
  • transitive v. To moisten, wipe, or clean with or as if with a sponge: sponge off the table.
  • transitive v. To wipe out; erase.
  • transitive v. To absorb with or as if with a sponge: sponge up the mess.
  • transitive v. Informal To obtain free: sponge a meal.
  • intransitive v. To fish for sponges.
  • intransitive v. Informal To live by relying on the generosity of others: sponged off her parents.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various marine invertebrates, mostly of the phylum Porifera, that have a porous skeleton often of silica.
  • n. A piece of porous material used for washing (originally made from the invertebrates, now often made of plastic).
  • n. A porous material such as sponges consist of.
  • n. A heavy drinker.
  • n. A type of light cake; sponge cake.
  • n. A type of steamed pudding.
  • n. 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).
  • n. A form of contraception that is inserted vaginally; a contraceptive sponge.
  • v. To take advantage of the kindness of others.
  • v. To clean, soak up, or dab with a sponge.
  • v. To suck in, or imbibe, like a sponge.
  • v. To be converted, as dough, into a light, spongy mass by the agency of yeast or leaven.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of numerous species of Spongiæ, or Porifera. See Illust. and Note under spongiæ.
  • n. The elastic fibrous skeleton of many species of horny Spongiæ (Keratosa), used for many purposes, especially the varieties of the genus Spongia. The most valuable sponges are found in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, and on the coasts of Florida and the West Indies.
  • n. One who lives upon others; a pertinacious and indolent dependent; a parasite; a sponger.
  • n. Any spongelike substance.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Iron from the puddling furnace, in a pasty condition.
  • n. Iron ore, in masses, reduced but not melted or worked.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The extremity, or point, of a horseshoe, answering to the heel.
  • intransitive v. To suck in, or imbibe, as a sponge.
  • intransitive v. Fig.: To gain by mean arts, by intrusion, or hanging on.
  • intransitive v. To be converted, as dough, into a light, spongy mass by the agency of yeast, or leaven.
  • transitive v. To cleanse or wipe with a sponge; ; to wet with a sponge.
  • transitive v. To wipe out with a sponge, as letters or writing; to efface; to destroy all trace of.
  • transitive v. Fig.: To deprive of something by imposition.
  • transitive v. Fig.: To get by imposition or mean arts without cost.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cleanse or wipe with a sponge: as, to sponge the body; to sponge a slate or a cannon.
  • To wipe out with a sponge, as letters or writing; efface; remove with a sponge; destroy all traces of: with out, off, etc.
  • Specifically To dampen, as in cloth-manufacturing.
  • To absorb; use a sponge, or act like a sponge, in absorbing: generally with up: as, to sponge up water that has been spilled.
  • To gain by sycophantic or mean arts.
  • To drain; harass by extortion; squeeze; plunder.
  • In baking, to set a sponge for: as, to sponge bread.
  • To gather sponges where they grow; dive or dredge for sponges.
  • To live meanly at the expense of others; obtain money or other aid in a mean way: with on.
  • n. A fixed aquatic organism of a low order, various in form and texture, composed of an aggregate of amœbiform bodies disposed about a common cavity provided with one or more inhalent and exhalent orifices (ostioles and oscules), through which water pours in and out.
  • n. The fibrous framework of a colony of sponge-animalcules, from which the animalcules themselves have been washed out, and from which the gritty or sandy parts of the colony, if there were any, have been taken away. See skeleton, 1 .
  • n. Any sponge-like substance.
  • n. A tool for cleaning a cannon after its discharge.
  • n. Figuratively, one who or that which absorbs without discrimination, and as readily gives up, when subjected to pressure, that which has been absorbed.
  • n. One who persistently lives upon others; a sycophantic or cringing dependent; a hanger-on for the sake of maintenance; a parasite.
  • n. In the manège, the extremity or point of a horseshoe answering to the heel.
  • n. The coral, or mass of eggs, under the abdomen of a crab.
  • n. Any absorbent material employed to take up the blood and other fluids in surgical operations.

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

  • n. primitive multicellular marine animal whose porous body is supported by a fibrous skeletal framework; usually occurs in sessile colonies
  • n. a follower who hangs around a host (without benefit to the host) in hope of gain or advantage
  • v. soak up with a sponge
  • n. someone able to acquire new knowledge and skills rapidly and easily
  • v. ask for and get free; be a parasite
  • v. erase with a sponge; as of words on a blackboard
  • v. wipe with a sponge, so as to clean or moisten
  • v. gather sponges, in the ocean
  • n. a porous mass of interlacing fibers that forms the internal skeleton of various marine animals and usable to absorb water or any porous rubber or cellulose product similarly used


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

Middle English, from Old English, from Latin spongia, from Greek spongiā, from spongos.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • They should be called incurrent and excurrent, since sponges don't breathe air.

    April 26, 2011

  • Those are ostioles and oscules, you know.

    April 26, 2011

  • Check out Cent. Dict.'s "inhalent and exhalent orifices."

    April 26, 2011

  • "... he had infiltrated the barn area with plans to break into Seabiscuit's stall and shove a sponge up his nostril, impeding his breathing....

    "A ripple of horror spread across the backstretch. 'Sponging,' an old race-fixing technique from racing's corrupt days, threatened horses' lives. The ensuing partial strangulation frequently triggered systemic, stress-related diseases that were often fatal. And unless a horseman was actively looking for the sponge, it could go undetected for weeks."

    —Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit: An American Legend (New York: Ballentine Books, 2001), 194–195

    "'A brigade of Chicago gorillas armed with Tommy guns might be able to get to Seabiscuit—after shooting down everybody on the lot,' said Howard. 'But one man trying to sponge Seabiscuit would have about as much chance as a kindergarten kid trying to jimmy his way into the United States mint with a fountain pen.'"

    (p. 208)

    October 21, 2008

  • And of course WeirdNet thinks the most common usage is as a verb...

    November 27, 2007

  • Also a bread mix, particularly one that is left to ferment before being worked to a dough.

    November 27, 2007

  • 1: A sponge is a porous animal found in the bottom of the ocean.

    2: A small porous tool used to wash various thigs such as dishes or cars. Can be synthetic or made by the actual animal.

    December 7, 2006