\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Using their bodies as sponges, ladies will relay through the ’Dega car wash collecting as much water and soap as possible to clean their dirty windows first without using their hands. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "Slop Fest, Dirty Girl Deluxe Wash on tap for Big One on the Blvd at Talladega," 29 Jan. 2020 After lightly rubbing with the soapy cloth, rinse your cloth or sponge well and go over the area with clean water to remove any soapy residue. Jennifer Kopf, Country Living, "How to Clean Walls so They Sparkle," 16 Jan. 2020 Apparently the weaponry has evolved since most of us played with them as kids, so be prepared to be attacked with sponge-throwing bows, bazookas, elite, vortex, zombie, ultra, etc. Danny Hermosillo, Houston Chronicle, "Lock and load: Giant NERF battle coming to Texas," 14 Jan. 2020 These woody wonders sponge carbon dioxide out of the skies, brace soil against erosion, cycle water through ecosystems and support countless forms of life. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "The World’s Oldest Forest Has 385-Million-Year-Old Tree Roots," 20 Dec. 2019 Huge coral and sponge reefs that filled the seas suffered widespread collapse, along with other organisms that built shells out of calcium carbonate, which would have dissolved in the acidifying water. National Geographic, "Earth has had more major mass extinctions than we realized," 18 Dec. 2019 That overwhelms the vast sponge beds that would otherwise filter the water and provide habitat for fish. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "The Conservation Fight for Florida Water is Finally Seeing Progress," 6 Dec. 2019 Adding lengthy discussion of cake stodginess and sponge quality only maximizes both of these things. Judge John Hodgman, New York Times, "Judge John Hodgman on Office Baking Contests," 27 Nov. 2019 In an Instagram video on Tuesday (Feb. 4) announcing the exciting upcoming project, Gomez is seen trying on different lipstick, eyeshadow and blush swatches, as well as makeup sponges. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Selena Gomez Announces New Beauty Line, Rare Beauty," 4 Feb. 2020 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sponge

Time Traveler for sponge

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sponge

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sponge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sponge. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!