cuspidor

noun cus·pi·dor \ ˈkə-spə-ˌdȯr \

cuspidor was our Word of the Day on 02/28/2011. Hear the podcast!

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Cuspidor entered English in the early 18th century via the Portuguese word cuspidouro, meaning "place for spitting." The Portuguese word, unsurprisingly, has its origins in Latin: the word conspuere comes from the prefix com- and spuere, meaning "to spit." ("Spuere" is also the source of "spew" and sputum.) Since the early 19th century, "cuspidor" has been competing with (and losing to) "spittoon," but "cuspidor" beats "spittoon" in one particular category: the receptacle for spit at a dentist's office is more often referred to by the older word.

Origin and Etymology of cuspidor

Portuguese cuspidouro place for spitting, from cuspir to spit, from Latin conspuere, from com- + spuere to spit — more at spew


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