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I want my friend to step aside from wash basin so that I can spit after brushing. What is a decent word for spitting? Is there a better statement to ask him to step aside?

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Spit is a decent word, nothing wrong with it. (Yes, in some cultures, the native idea of 'spitting' has seriously negative connotations, but that's not about the English word per se. ) –  Kris Aug 28 '14 at 6:32
You could be more specific by saying "spit out," instead. –  Kris Aug 28 '14 at 6:35
I can't help wondering how you ask your friend (politely or otherwise) to move aside, while your mouth is full of toothpaste. –  Simon B Aug 28 '14 at 12:08
You are asking two different things. –  ermanen Aug 28 '14 at 14:19
If you have a mouthful of stuff to spit, you can't talk anyway. Shove him or her aside and spit. –  Oldcat Aug 28 '14 at 18:31

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Well, it's kind of a mouthful to say, but the clinical term is expectorate (definition from Merriam-Webster).

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That is an interesting term, but a bit unusual when brushing your teeth, I think :). –  Josh61 Aug 28 '14 at 5:39
To expectorate is not from the 'mouth' of spittle, but from the 'throat/ lungs,' esp., of phlegm or congestion. –  Kris Aug 28 '14 at 6:30
Thanks John. The word made my friend step aside instantly. He asked the meaning later:) –  Sathish Aug 28 '14 at 9:39
@Kris: Check the definition. Yes, the first sense listed is as you say, but the second one is spit. Also, see the definition for spit. It uses expectorate right in the definition. I'm not just talking from dictionary lookups. I've seen and heard the word used, and it is very often (in my experience, more than half the time) used to mean, precisely, spit. –  John Y Aug 28 '14 at 12:34
John, see the OP's friend's reaction which tells all. Avoid that horror-of-horrors. Good Luck. –  Kris Aug 29 '14 at 5:01

I think you can use the more neutral expression 'to rinse one's mouth'.

  • Please step aside, I need to rinse my mouth!

To rinse:

  • To wash lightly with water.

It may be common practice, but rinsing your mouth after brushing your teeth isn't a good idea.


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Dentists and mouth wash manufacturers often use the phrasal verb sluice out:

  • sluice out your mouth after brushing

Technically this involves both rinsing your mouth and then spitting out the water afterwards, but it would convey the need to get to the sink to spit. The phrasal verb sluice out can also be used in other contexts. Here's a definition and example from the Free Dictionary:

  • sluice something out

to rinse something out; to flood the inside of something to clean it.

  • Sluice the wheelbarrow out, will you? Please sluice out the wheelbarrow.

With regard to step aside, maybe it sounds a bit dramatic, perhaps a bit nineteenth-century period drama, but it's probably still ok. You could always use the phrases make room, or move over, if you wanted.

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