English edit

A marine sponge (1) can be used as a washing sponge (2)
Synthetic washing sponge (2)
A sponge cake (5)
Contraceptive sponge (9)

Etymology edit

From Old English spunge, taken from Latin spongia, from Ancient Greek σπογγιά (spongiá), related to σπόγγος (spóngos).

Pronunciation edit

  • enPR: spŭnj, IPA(key): /spʌnd͡ʒ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌndʒ

Noun edit

sponge (countable and uncountable, plural sponges)

  1. (countable) Any of various marine invertebrates of the phylum Porifera, that have a porous skeleton often of silica.
    Synonyms: sea sponge, bath sponge, poriferan, porifer
  2. (countable) A piece of porous material used for washing (originally made from the invertebrates, now often made of plastic).
    Synonym: bath sponge
    • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 5, in Lord Stranleigh Abroad[1]:
      She removed Stranleigh’s coat with a dexterity that aroused his imagination. The elder woman returned with dressings and a sponge, which she placed on a chair.
  3. (uncountable) A porous material such as sponges consist of.
  4. (informal) A heavy drinker.
    Synonyms: souse, swill-pot; see also Thesaurus:drunkard
  5. (countable, uncountable) A type of light cake.
    Synonym: sponge cake
  6. (countable, uncountable, Britain) A type of steamed pudding.
    Synonym: sponge pudding
  7. (slang) A person who takes advantage of the generosity of others (abstractly imagined to absorb or soak up the money or efforts of others like a sponge).
    Synonyms: freeloader, sponger; see also Thesaurus:scrounger
  8. A person who readily absorbs ideas.
    • 2014, Phoeve Hutchison, Are You Listening? Life Is Talking to You!, page 145:
      For this reason, we need to think of our children as sponges of information and watch their sources carefully. We also need to always model appropriate behaviour, as we are a constant source of new information.
  9. (countable) A form of contraception that is inserted vaginally; a contraceptive sponge.
  10. Any sponge-like substance.
    1. (baking) Dough before it is kneaded and formed into loaves, and after it is converted into a light, spongy mass by the agency of the yeast or leaven.
    2. Iron from the puddling furnace, in a pasty condition.
    3. Iron ore, in masses, reduced but not melted or worked.
  11. A mop for cleaning the bore of a cannon after a discharge. It consists of a cylinder of wood, covered with sheepskin with the wool on, or cloth with a heavy looped nap, and having a handle, or staff.
  12. The extremity, or point, of a horseshoe, corresponding to the heel.
  13. (slang) A nuclear power plant worker routinely exposed to radiation.

Derived terms edit

Descendants edit

  • Hindi: स्पंज (spañj)
  • Japanese: スポンジ (suponji)
  • Korean: 스펀지 (seupeonji)
  • Pashto: ⁧سپنج(spanj)
  • Welsh: spynj

Translations edit

See also edit

Verb edit

sponge (third-person singular simple present sponges, present participle sponging or spongeing, simple past and past participle sponged)

  1. (intransitive, slang) To take advantage of the kindness of others.
    He has been sponging off his friends for a month now.
  2. (transitive, intransitive with on or upon) To get by imposition; to scrounge.
    Synonym: blag
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      [] They talk of you as if you were Croesus—and I expect the beggars sponge on you unconscionably.” And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes.
    • July 17 1735, Jonathan Swift, letter to Lord Ornery
      I am an utter stranger to the persons and places, except when half a score come to sponge on me every Sunday evening
    to sponge a breakfast
  3. (transitive) To deprive (somebody) of something by imposition.
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 6th edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, →OCLC:
      How came such multitudes of our nation [] to be sponged of their plate and their money?
  4. To clean, soak up, or dab with a sponge.
  5. To suck in, or imbibe, like a sponge.
  6. To wipe out with a sponge, as letters or writing; to efface; to destroy all trace of.
    • 1594–1597, Richard Hooker, edited by J[ohn] S[penser], Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, (please specify the page):
      Lett the eyes which have looked on Idols, sponge out their unlawfull acts
  7. (intransitive, baking) To be converted, as dough, into a light, spongy mass by the agency of yeast or leaven.
  8. (marine biology, of dolphins) To use a piece of wild sponge as a tool when foraging for food.
    • 2013, Pamela S. Turner, The Dolphins of Shark Bay, page 22:
      Why do dolphins sponge instead of foraging in a more "normal" way?
    • 2015, Hal Whitehead, Luke Rendell, The Cultural Lives of Whales and, page 109:
      Sponging is worth thinking about in some detail because it illustrates many of the challenges and sources of controversy in studying social learning and culture in wild cetaceans.
    • 2017, Janet Mann, Deep Thinkers: Inside the Minds of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises, page 153:
      Moreover, the females that do it seem to "sponge" relentlessly throughout the day, hunting more than other females and more than male spongers too.

Translations edit

Further reading edit

Anagrams edit