cus·​pi·​dor ˈkə-spə-ˌdȯr How to pronounce cuspidor (audio)

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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.

Examples of cuspidor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Hurney embellishing every point with a wave of his makeshift cuspidor; Rivera stern and square, arms folded tightly, mouth a straight line. Jourdan Rodrigue, charlotteobserver, 9 Mar. 2018 Buckets, cuspidors and other containers were gathered up and placed about the floor and on the judge's bench to prevent as much damage as possible. Scott Harrison,, 14 Feb. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cuspidor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1735, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cuspidor was in 1735


Dictionary Entries Near cuspidor

Cite this Entry

“Cuspidor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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