spu·​tum | \ ˈspyü-təm How to pronounce sputum (audio) , ˈspü- \
plural sputa\ ˈspyü-​tə How to pronounce sputum (audio) , ˈspü-​ \ also sputums

Definition of sputum

: matter expectorated from the respiratory system and especially the lungs that is composed of mucus but may contain pus, blood, fibrin, or microorganisms (such as bacteria) in diseased states

Examples of sputum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, higher temperatures also seem to cause more coughing, breathlessness, and sputum production among such patients. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 25 July 2022 These cases are difficult to detect because people have normal chest x-rays and negative sputum tests. Sofia Moutinho, Scientific American, 14 May 2022 Diagnosis of a active TB lung infection involves checking your sputum or lung secretions for presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 1 May 2022 In an effort to address these issues, in countries like India, the government has released guidelines advising Covid positive patients to undergo the TB sputum test if cough persists for more than two to three weeks. Anuradha Varanasi, Forbes, 26 Mar. 2022 The good news: There are tests can accurately check for current COVID-19 infections, per the CDC—those are known as viral tests which examine the sputum from your nose or mouth for signs of the virus. Elizabeth Narins, Health.com, 22 Oct. 2021 In these studies, the prevalence of long Covid to range from 4.7% to 80%, with chest pain (up to 89%), fatigue (up to 65%), dyspnea (up to 61%), and cough and sputum production (up to 59%) being the most common symptoms. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 19 Sep. 2021 This study broke new ground in examining lung tissue instead of sputum or bronchial washing, and using a technique to identify each cell in a tissue sample. Julie Washington, cleveland, 3 May 2021 Invented in 1983, PCR is a multi-step test to detect infectious agents, including viruses in humans, using a sample of sputum or other genetic material. David Willman, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Dec. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of sputum

circa 1693, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sputum

Latin, from neuter of sputus, past participle of spuere to spit — more at spew

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Time Traveler for sputum

Time Traveler

The first known use of sputum was circa 1693

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Dictionary Entries Near sputum



sputum cup

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Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sputum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sputum. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for sputum


spu·​tum | \ ˈsp(y)üt-əm How to pronounce sputum (audio) \
plural sputa\ -​ə How to pronounce sputum (audio) \

Medical Definition of sputum

: matter expectorated from the respiratory system and especially the lungs in diseased states that is composed of mucus but may contain pus, blood, fibrin, or microorganisms (as bacteria)

More from Merriam-Webster on sputum

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sputum

Britannica English: Translation of sputum for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sputum


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