Spitting or expectoration is the act of forcibly ejecting saliva or other substances from the mouth. It is normally considered rude and a social taboo in many parts of the world, though spitting can still be occasionally observed in some places. It is possible to transmit infectious diseases in this way.

Spitting upon another person, especially onto the face, is a universal sign of anger, hatred or contempt, for example it is the subject of an urban legend representing the contempt with which Vietnam veterans were treated on their return to the United States. It can represent a "symbolical regurgitation" or an act of contamination. It can also be a device to bring good luck or ward off bad. [s.v., Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend., Maria Leach, ed]

The term spitting is also used to describe a type of soft rain.

History of spitting in Western Europe

Social attitudes towards spitting have changed greatly in Western Europe since the Middle Ages. Then, frequent spitting was part of everyday life, and at all levels of society, it was thought ill-mannered to suck back saliva to avoid spitting. By the early 1700s, spitting had become seen as something which should be concealed, and by 1859 many viewed the spitting on the floor or street as vulgar, especially in mixed company. Spittoons were used openly during the nineteenth century to provide an acceptable outlet for spitters. Spittoons became far less common after the influenza epidemic of 1918, and their use has since virtually disappeared, though each justice of the Supreme Court of the United States continues to be provided with a personal cuspidor [http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-03-19-court-rituals_N.htm]

Spitting habits

Many people in the world spit for different reasons. Personal, physical, practical, symbolic, recreational, nonsensical, etc.

The Dangers of Spitting or Otherwise Ejecting Spittle in a Non Hygienic Fashion

Atypical pneumonia can be spread by respiratory droplets. Atypical pneumonia is a pneumonia that does not respond to the usual antibiotic treatment, therefore making this pneumonia rather severe. Another disease which can be transmitted by spitting is tuberculosis.

Spitting competitions

There are some places whereby spitting is a competitive sport, with or without a projectile in the mouth. For example, there is a Guinness World Record for cherry pit spitting, and there are world championships in Kudu dung spitting.

Spitting Theory

It has often been suggestedWho|date|date=April 2008 that spitting, in the human world, is a territorial act that has been locked in our past genes. In soccer, players spit in groups around who takes the free kick as both a territorial gesture and also a way to show displeasure at not getting the shot. Needless to say, free kicks are a spitting orgydubious. The most common "spitters" are young males in the prime years, generally the years when testosterone levels are at their highest.


* Amongst the Fremen of Arrakis in Frank Herbert's Dune series, spitting is an act of showing one's appreciation and respect. Since the desert of Arrakis provides only a small amount of water to live from, giving away fluid is a special sign of honor.
* Spitting (or "gobbing") was a common practise among English punks in the 1970s. When the punk bands played live, it was seen as part of the punk ritual to spit on them.
*The Maasai tribe in Africa spit upon one another as a greeting and farewell. This was satirized in the movie .
* A camel or llama may spit if it is annoyed.
* In law, spitting may be considered an assault and battery.
* Spitting within a few days after removal of a tooth can disrupt the recovery process as the spitting action can change the pressure inside the mouth and disturb scabs/clots in the wound.
* Baseball player Frenchy Bordagaray was once suspended for spitting on an umpire. He remarked that the punishment was "more than I expected."

See also



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Look at other dictionaries:

  • spitting —    Though real or pretended spitting for luck or to repel *witchcraft and the *evil eye is an ancient device, concern for hygiene and good manners makes it rare now. However, there are many references to people spitting on a *coin for luck,… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Spitting — Spit Spit, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Spit} ({Spat}, archaic); p. pr. & vb. n. {Spitting}.] [AS. spittan; akin to G. sp[ u]tzen, Dan. spytte, Sw. spotta,Icel. sp?ta, and prob. E. spew. The past tense spat is due to AS. sp?tte, from sp?tan to spit. Cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spitting — Spit Spit, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Spitted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Spitting}.] [From {Spit}, n.; cf. {Speet}.] 1. To thrust a spit through; to fix upon a spit; hence, to thrust through or impale; as, to spit a loin of veal. Infants spitted upon pikes.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spitting — adj. Spitting is used with these nouns: ↑image …   Collocations dictionary

  • spitting — noun the act of spitting (forcefully expelling saliva) • Syn: ↑spit, ↑expectoration • Derivationally related forms: ↑expectorate (for: ↑expectoration), ↑spit, ↑spit ( …   Useful english dictionary

  • spitting — SYN: expectoration (2) …   Medical dictionary

  • spitting — The worst kind of insult was to spit into someone s face (Num. 12:14; Matt. 26:67), but sometimes Jesus spat in the performance of healings (Mark 7:33) …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • spitting — n. act of expelling saliva from the mouth, expectorating adj. that spits, that ejects saliva from the mouth spɪt n. saliva; act of ejecting saliva; pointed rod on which meat is roasted; perfect likeness; light rainfall or snowfall; narrow… …   English contemporary dictionary

  • spitting — spit·ting …   English syllables

  • Spitting cobra — refers to any one of several species of cobras that have the ability to spit or eject venom from their mouth when defending themselves against predators. The spit venom is harmless to intact skin. However, it can cause permanent blindness if… …   Wikipedia

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