General English

General Science


  • noun the depth of soil that is dug with a spade


  • The depth of one hand-shovel blade.


  • A substantial metal rod on which meat is impaled for roasting in front of, over, or under a source of radiant heat, or in an oven. It usually has attachments which clamp to the rod and engage the meat so that it turns as the rod is turned giving even cooking on all sides. The term often includes the supporting structure and the mechanism for turning the spit.


  • noun saliva which is sent out of the mouth


  • noun a long metal rod passed through meat which turns so that the meat is evenly cooked

Origin & History of “spit”

English has two words spit in current usage. Spit ‘eject saliva’ (OE) is one of a sizable group of English words beginning sp- which denote ‘ejecting or discharging liquid’. Others include spew (OE), spout (14th c.), spurt (16th c.), and sputter (16th c.). they all go back ultimately to an Indo-European base *spyēu-, *spyū-, etc, imitative of the sound of spitting, which also produced Latin spuere ‘spit’ (source of English cuspidor (18th c.) and sputum (17th c.)). The immediate source of spit itself was the prehistoric Germanic base *spit-, a variant of which, *spāt-, produced English spittle (15th c.) (originally spattle, but changed through association with spit).

Spit for roasting things on (OE) comes from a prehistoric Germanic *spituz, which also produced German spiess and Dutch spit.