O.E. spiwan "spew, spit," from P.Gmc. *spiwanan (cf. O.S. spiwan, O.N. spyja, O.Fris. spiwa, M.Du. spien, Du. spuwen, O.H.G. spiwan, Ger. speien, Goth. spiewan "to spit"), from PIE *sp(y)eu-, probably ultimately of imitative origin (cf. L. spuere, Gk. ptuein, O.C.S. pljuja, Lith. spiauti). Also in O.E. as a weak verb, speowan. The noun meaning "vomited matter" is attested from 1609.