\ ˈspənj How to pronounce sponge (audio) \

Definition of sponge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : an elastic porous mass of interlacing horny fibers that forms the internal skeleton of various marine animals (phylum Porifera) and is able when wetted to absorb water
(2) : a piece of sponge (as for scrubbing)
(3) : a porous rubber or cellulose product used similarly to a sponge
b : any of a phylum (Porifera) of aquatic chiefly marine simple invertebrate animals that have a double-walled body of loosely aggregated cells with a skeleton supported by spicules or spongin and are filter feeders that are sessile as adults
2 : a pad (as of folded gauze) used in surgery and medicine (as to remove discharge)
3 : one who lives on others
4a : a soft mixture of yeast, liquid, and flour that is allowed to rise and then mixed with additional ingredients to create bread dough
b : a whipped dessert usually containing whites of eggs or gelatin
c : a metal (such as platinum) obtained in porous form usually by reduction without fusion titanium sponge
d : the egg mass of a crab
5 : an absorbent contraceptive device that is impregnated with spermicide and inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse to cover the cervix


sponged; sponging

Definition of sponge (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cleanse, wipe, or moisten with or as if with a sponge
2 : to erase or destroy with or as if with a sponge often used with out
3 : to get by sponging on another
4 : to absorb with or as if with or in the manner of a sponge

intransitive verb

1 : to absorb, soak up, or imbibe like a sponge
2 : to get something from or live on another by imposing on hospitality or good nature sponged off of her sister
3 : to dive or dredge for sponges

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Other Words from sponge


spongelike \ ˈspənj-​ˌlīk How to pronounce spongelike (audio) \ adjective


sponger noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sponge


parasite, sycophant, toady, leech, sponge mean a usually obsequious flatterer or self-seeker. parasite applies to one who clings to a person of wealth, power, or influence or is useless to society. a jet-setter with an entourage of parasites sycophant adds to this a strong suggestion of fawning, flattery, or adulation. a powerful prince surrounded by sycophants toady emphasizes the servility and snobbery of the self-seeker. cultivated leaders of society and became their toady leech stresses persistence in clinging to or bleeding another for one's own advantage. a leech living off his family and friends sponge stresses the parasitic laziness, dependence, and opportunism of the cadger. a shiftless sponge, always looking for a handout

Examples of sponge in a Sentence

Noun finally told the sponge to move out of their house and to get a job Verb She sponged up the spilt milk. He sponged off his face. She sponged the dirt off her shirt. She always sponges meals from us.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At defensive tackle Washington Jr. absorbed offensive lineman like a sponge soaking up water, allowing the linebackers and defensive ends to get to the ball carrier. Brice Paterik, Dallas News, "5 departures that will hurt Texas Tech the most in 2020: Red Raiders have to replace the heart of their defense," 18 Jan. 2020 Combine some water and baking soda and apply to the door with a sponge—make sure to get all the rubber bits. Laura Kostelny, Country Living, "How to Clean Every Inch of Your Microwave," 4 Oct. 2019 Brushing my teeth, trying to wash the cheese grater and shredding the sponge. Clare Sestanovich, The New Yorker, "Old Hope," 2 Dec. 2019 The movie also features Tom Kenny, the man who has voiced the lovable cartoon sponge for over 20 years (and voices several other characters on the Nickelodeon show, including Gary the Snail). Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Keanu Reeves Joins the SpongeBob Universe in Wacky Trailer for Sponge on the Run," 14 Nov. 2019 Rocks from the period in what’s now Germany show that as oxygen levels plummeted, many reef-building creatures died out, including a major group of sea sponges called the stromatoporoids. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "What are mass extinctions, and what causes them?," 30 Sep. 2019 Her face was puffy and scabbed, her arms were scarred by needle marks, and an abscess the size of a kitchen sponge floated under tight skin near her elbow. Steve Lopez, latimes.com, "Meth addiction is an epidemic, and it’s complicating the homeless relief effort," 29 June 2019 In addition, the investigators established that lactate can cross from the blood into the gut, where Veillonella might act as a kind of lactate sponge. Emily Willingham, Scientific American, "Elite Athletes’ Gut Bacteria Give Rodent Runners a Boost," 24 June 2019 The reef track is a living thing, made up of 80 species of countless corals that host other creatures, like 70 species of marine sponges. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "US special forces veterans are deploying to save coral reefs," 8 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One of the best parts of gambas al ajillo is sponging up the garlicky oil with crusty bread. Genevieve Kocooking Editor, Los Angeles Times, "Master Class with Aitor Zabala on Spain’s best tapas," 19 Sep. 2019 The better shareable dishes are the aforementioned tender mussels, served with rafts of toast to sponge the sweet heat, and pimento cheese accompanied by bacon jam, its seasoning reminiscent of baked beans. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "Bar Charley has grown up. Now, you’ll dine as well as you drink.," 13 Nov. 2019 These groups, some of which emerged initially as armed gangs fighting the U.S. in the early 2000s, have sponged up state assets after they were incorporated as an official security force in 2018. Seth J. Frantzman, National Review, "Iraqi Unrest Flares Up Again," 1 Nov. 2019 The second took place in a comfortable kitchen in Vauxhall, in the inner-London gentrification belt (Bagehot sponged). The Economist, "When two tribes go to lunch," 12 Sep. 2019 Pack a dark washcloth to sponge dark clothes without leaving obvious lint. Los Angeles Times, "Readers’ laundry tips and secrets for keeping clothes clean while traveling," 4 Sep. 2019 For decades, the Sardar Sarovar sponged up almost all of Gujarat’s irrigation budget. Arundhati Roy, Quartz India, "Tribespeople in India’s Gujarat fiercely resisted a mega dam—but they got a mega statue, too," 8 July 2019 Its tentacle-like roots have sponged up water in already thirsty districts. Peter Schwartzstein, National Geographic, "An invasive, thorny tree is taking over Africa—can it be stopped?," 9 Apr. 2019 Next, use a clean, white cloth to sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent like Guardsman Professional Strength Dry Cleaning Fluid. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "How to Remove Vomit Stains From Carpet, Clothing, and More," 5 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sponge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sponge


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for sponge


Middle English, from Old English, from Latin spongia, from Greek

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Learn More about sponge

Time Traveler for sponge

Time Traveler

The first known use of sponge was before the 12th century

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Statistics for sponge

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sponge.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sponge. Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for sponge


How to pronounce sponge (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sponge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece of light natural or artificial material that becomes soft when it is wet, is able to take in and hold liquid, and is used for washing or cleaning
: a type of sea animal from which natural sponges are made
informal + disapproving : someone who gets something from someone else without doing or paying anything in return



English Language Learners Definition of sponge (Entry 2 of 2)

: to clean or wipe (something) with a sponge
: to put (paint) on a surface with a sponge
informal + disapproving : to get money, food, etc., from (someone) without doing or paying anything in return


\ ˈspənj How to pronounce sponge (audio) \

Kids Definition of sponge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a water animal that lives permanently attached to a solid surface (as the ocean bottom) and has a simple body of loosely connected cells with a skeleton supported by stiff fibers or hard particles
2 : a piece of springy absorbent material that forms the skeleton of a sponge or is manufactured and that is used for cleaning
3 : a pad of folded gauze used in surgery and medicine


sponged; sponging

Kids Definition of sponge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to clean or wipe with a sponge
2 : to get something or live at the expense of another sponge off friends


\ ˈspənj How to pronounce sponge (audio) \

Medical Definition of sponge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an elastic porous mass of interlacing horny fibers that forms the internal skeleton of various marine animals (phylum Porifera) and is able when wetted to absorb liquid
2a : a small pad made of multiple folds of gauze or of cotton and gauze used to mop blood from a surgical incision, to carry inhalant medicaments to the nose, or to cover a superficial wound as a dressing
b : a porous dressing (as of fibrin or gelatin) applied to promote wound healing
c : a plastic prosthesis used in chest cavities following lung surgery
3 : an absorbent contraceptive device impregnated with spermicide that is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse to cover the cervix and act as a barrier to sperm
sponged; sponging

Medical Definition of sponge (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cleanse, wipe, or moisten with or as if with a sponge sponge the patient's back

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More from Merriam-Webster on sponge

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sponge

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sponge

Spanish Central: Translation of sponge

Nglish: Translation of sponge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sponge

Comments on sponge

What made you want to look up sponge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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