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[ik-spek-tuh-reyt] /ɪkˈspɛk təˌreɪt/
verb (used without object), expectorated, expectorating.
to eject or expel matter, as phlegm, from the throat or lungs by coughing or hawking and spitting; spit.
verb (used with object), expectorated, expectorating.
to eject or expel (matter) in this way.
Origin of expectorate
1595-1605; < Latin expectorātus (past participle of expectorāre to expel from the breast), equivalent to ex- ex-1 + pector- (stem of pectus) breast + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
expectorator, noun
unexpectorated, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for expectorate
Historical Examples
  • The others, sitting on the floor, backs to the wall and knees drawn up to chins, smoke their pipes and expectorate.

  • So absorbed was his attention that he even forgot to expectorate.

  • He is advised not to blow the nose, but to hawk as much of the secretion as possible backwards and then expectorate it.

  • It is barbarous to expectorate in the temple of your faith, but that doubtless is an extreme case.

    Italian Hours Henry James
  • He stops of his own accord, however, to cough and expectorate—he has advanced tuberculosis.

    The Woman Who Toils Mrs. John Van Vorst and Marie Van Vorst
  • The throat is dry and irritated, and there is a constant desire to expectorate.

  • One habit of the men is disgusting; they expectorate freely over everything but the ocean.

    Le Petit Nord Anne Elizabeth Caldwell (MacClanahan) Grenfell and Katie Spalding
  • Seller (falls into a brown study, from which he at length emerges to tap the nearest ewe on the forehead and expectorate).

  • He began to expectorate blood—no unusual thing for him—but this time to such extent that he feared the return of hemorrhage.

  • The mucus accumulating during sleep often awakens the patient in efforts at hawking and spitting to detach and expectorate it.

British Dictionary definitions for expectorate


to cough up and spit out (sputum from the respiratory passages)
Derived Forms
expectoration, noun
expectorator, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin expectorāre, literally: to drive from the breast, expel, from pectus breast
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for expectorate

c.1600, "to clear out the chest or lungs," from Latin expectoratus, past participle of expectorare "scorn, expel from the mind," literally "make a clean breast," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + pectus (genitive pectoris) "breast" (see pectoral (adj.)). Use as a euphemism for "spit" is first recorded 1827. Original sense in expectorant. Related: Expectorated; expectorating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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expectorate in Medicine

expectorate ex·pec·to·rate (ĭk-spěk'tə-rāt')
v. ex·pec·to·rat·ed, ex·pec·to·rat·ing, ex·pec·to·rates

  1. To eject saliva, mucus, or other body fluid from the mouth; spit.

  2. To clear out the chest and lungs by coughing up and spitting out matter.

ex·pec'to·ra'tion n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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