Meaning of SPONGE in English


I. noun

also spunge ˈspənj

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English sponge, spounge, from Old English sponge, from Latin spongia, spongea, from Greek spongia; akin to Greek spongos sponge — more at fungus


a. : the elastic porous mass of interlacing horny fibers that forms the internal skeleton of marine animals of low organization belonging to the phylum Porifera (as members of the genera Hippiospongia and Spongia ) and that has great power of absorbing water and becomes soft when wet without losing strength — see grass sponge , turkey sponge , velvet sponge , wool sponge

b. : any one of a large group of chiefly marine animals constituting the phylum Porifera that consist fundamentally of two layers of cells surrounding a central cavity, are permanently attached either solitary or in masses varying greatly in size, shape, color, and consistency, have skeletons composed variously of spongin (as in the commercial sponges) or a siliceous or a calcareous substance the interstices of which are filled with cells and pierced with a system of canals and small cavities opening on the surface through which a current of food-bearing water is maintained by collared flagellated cells lining the canal walls, and reproduce either asexually by budding or sexually by means of egg and sperm cells that form a free-swimming larva — see leucon , rhagon , sycon


a. : a piece of the skeleton of various marine sponges that is used for washing, cleaning, or erasing marks (as of chalk) from blackboards or slates ; also : porous rubber or cellulose material used for washing or swabbing

b. archaic : something that effaces or blots out existing impressions, memories, or emotions

c. obsolete : a process or method of canceling or wiping off indebtedness without making payment


a. : 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

4. : a long-handled cylindrical swab for cleaning the bore of a cannon after discharge

5. : sponge bath


a. : a hard drinker : drunkard

b. : one who lives upon others : a persistently idle or lazy dependent : sponger

c. : one from whom money may be extorted or information extracted


a. : porous elastic soil or a patch of such soil

b. : bread dough after it has been raised or converted into a light porous mass by yeast or leaven

c. : a dessert made light by the incorporation of air usually through addition of whipped whites of eggs or of gelatin that is whipped after it has jelled

pineapple sponge

d. : luffa 3

e. obsolete : pasty iron from a puddling furnace

f. : a metal (as lead, platinum) obtained in porous form usually by reduction without fusion

titanium sponge

— see platinum sponge

g. : the egg mass of a crab borne by the female until the larvae hatch

8. : a light olive brown that is slightly stronger than drab, less strong and slightly redder than average mustard tan, and deeper than the color dust

Synonyms: see parasite

II. verb

also spunge “

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English spongen, from sponge (I)

transitive verb


a. : to cleanse or wipe with or as if with a sponge

sponge a slate

sponge off his face

sponge the bore of a cannon

b. : to dampen with a sponge or cloth before ironing

sponge trousers

c. : to spruce up : make neat, fresh, and tidy

d. : to apply liquid to with a sponge

sponge a patient's back with alcohol


a. : to wipe out (as letters, numbers) with a sponge : erase , obliterate — used often with out

whole paragraphs had been sponged out

b. : to destroy all trace of : efface

every stain of his infected and corroding fingers will be sponged and … blasted from the surface of the earth — Sir Winston Churchill


a. : to stipple (a painted surface) by removing some of the wet paint with a sponge

b. : to decorate (a ceramic surface) by applying mucilaginous pigment with a sponge

c. : to smooth the edges of (ceramic ware) with a damp sponge before firing

4. obsolete : to squeeze money or information from : extort from : drain

5. : to get (as money, meals, comforts) without cost or return by imposing on generosity or hospitality

nightclub entertainer … that sponges drinks from the guests — Anthony West

6. : to take up or absorb with or as if with a sponge or as a sponge does : soak , sop , swab — used usually with up

sponge up spilled ink

the state loan … managed to sponge up most of the available savings — D.C.McKay

7. : to insert a piece of sponge in (a horse's nostril) to impair the breathing and so effect the loss of a race

intransitive verb


a. : to absorb, soak up, imbibe like a sponge

b. : to swell out like a sponge


a. : to get something at another's cost by imposing on hospitality or good nature

beggar sponging for rum — R.L.Stevenson

b. : to live like a parasite on the generosity of another — usually used with on or off

do you expect to go on sponging on me the rest of your days — Marcia Davenport

3. : to dive or dredge for sponges

4. of a tobacco leaf : to mottle in curing because of rapid beating or insufficient ventilation

III. noun

: an absorbent contraceptive device impregnated with spermatocide that is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse to cover the cervix and act as a barrier to sperm

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.