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[spyoo-tuh m] /ˈspyu təm/
noun, plural sputa
[spyoo-tuh] /ˈspyu tə/ (Show IPA)
matter, as saliva mixed with mucus or pus, expectorated from the lungs and respiratory passages.
Origin of sputum
1685-95; < Latin spūtum, noun use of neuter of spūtus, past participle of spuere to spit, equivalent to spū- variant stem + -tus past participle suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sputum
  • They investigate possible food sources in garbage piles, septic tanks, and sputum.
  • These may be used if there are signs of infection, such as fever or yellow or green sputum.
  • sputum samples may be taken to check for signs of inflammation or bacterial infection.
  • Cough medicines may make it harder for your body to cough up the extra sputum.
  • Patients may have a severe hacking cough, but it usually does not produce sputum.
  • But other doctors say a negative sputum test does not necessarily rule out pneumonic plague.
  • To be a doctor, for example, means looking at feces and urine and sputum.
  • But they all were pronounced free of the disease after blood and sputum tests.
  • They all had bilateral pneumonia and blood in their sputum.
  • Only a sputum sample will reveal the organism causing the infection.
British Dictionary definitions for sputum


noun (pl) -ta (-tə)
a mass of salivary matter ejected from the mouth
saliva ejected from the mouth mixed with mucus or pus exuded from the respiratory passages, as in bronchitis or bronchiectasis
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: spittle, from spuere to spit out
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 sputum

1690s, from Latin sputum, noun use of neuter past participle of spuere "to spit" (see spew).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sputum in Medicine

sputum spu·tum (spyōō'təm)
n. pl. spu·ta (-tə)
Matter coughed up and usually expelled from the mouth, especially mucus or mucopurulent matter expectorated in diseases of the air passages.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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