15

Just wanted to know how to write in a chat room the sound for "spit".

As in "meow" for the sound that a cat makes, what would you write for the sound of the verb "spit"?

(Google wasn't very helpful, so turning to some native speakers for some help)

  • 3
    "Ach-tooey!" is my favorite! – Kristina Lopez Feb 10 '15 at 16:57
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    Isn't that the one for "sneeze"? (confused) ;-) – Fabby Feb 10 '15 at 17:01
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    @Fabby - I know the sneeze as "achoo!". "Ach" is the snort part and "tooey" is the projecting-the-snot-out-of-the-mouth part. – Kristina Lopez Feb 10 '15 at 17:03
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    I thought spit was pretty onomatopoeic already, with the s being the inhaling and the pit at the point of ejection. – Frank Feb 10 '15 at 17:07
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    @KristinaLopez: Cool! Now I know ever more! – Fabby Feb 10 '15 at 17:13
44

ptui! - expresses disgust; usually accompanied by spitting

For example...

...she coughed and corralled the rattle in her chest into her mouth then ptui! - spat on the ground

There aren't many examples of the verb form (as with the cat meowed, the dog woofed), but I did manage to find this one...

Spit should be blown, not ptuied weakly with the lips, which often results in dribble.


OED (subscription-only) don't list the spelling ptooey , but they do have this in their entry for...

ptui
Chiefly N. Amer.
Etymology: Imitative. Compare pfui int., phooey int., and also ptish int., pshaw int., etc.

  • 1
    We must have posted right around the same time. Interestingly, the NGram shows ptui as more prevalent overall in both the US and GB corpora (so +1 for that), but I exclusively recall the ptooey spelling from children's books, likewise phooey not pfui. – choster Feb 10 '15 at 20:14
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    @Fabby: I don't think there's any doubt ptui and ptooey are just spelling variants - of which I'm sure the former is more common in BrE, but maybe not so much in AmE. But to me ptooey is reminiscent of phooey (which I find very "folksy American"), so I'm with OED on this one (rather than Collins, who don't list ptui). Both dictionaries have phooey, obviously (orig. U.S., according to OED). – FumbleFingers Feb 11 '15 at 0:01
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    Charlie Brown cartoons were very fond of "ptui!". – Alan B Feb 11 '15 at 12:00
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    @Zibbobz: Given that He spat the words out invariably implies (inter alia) that he spoke in a rapid/clipped style (rather than drawling, for example), it seems more appropriate to me that we should reflect this with the shorter spelling. All these "double-O" versions seem somewhat gooey/cooey to me (a load of hooey, in fact! :) – FumbleFingers Feb 11 '15 at 15:44
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    @FumbleFingers Given that this is spit we're talking about, a bit of 'gooeyness' makes sense. – Zibbobz Feb 11 '15 at 15:49
37

The most common word is probably

ptooey: an imitation of the sound of spitting [Collins]

It is also spelled ptui. In fact, this spelling is more common in both the British and American English Google Books corpora according to the NGram, but for whatever reason I'm finding the ptooey spelling easier to find in published media, from CSM to The New Yorker. Both spellings are playable in Scrabble.

  • 1
    TIL! I have known this word since I was a kid, but never had any idea it was referring to spitting. It sounds more like "phooey" so I guess I just assumed it had a similar meaning. – Michael Feb 10 '15 at 18:30
  • Choster: Just don't think I'm stingy: the first upvotes both you and FumbleFingers got were mine! ;-) And thanks again for the research and entertainment! – Fabby Feb 10 '15 at 22:13
  • Yes Scrabble acceptance is important! – tox123 Feb 12 '15 at 13:27
26

As indicated in the comments, "Spit" is actually onomatopoetic. It comes from the Old English word "Spittan", which was the imitation of the sound of spitting.

  • An upvote as that's exactly what I thought too, before choster and FumbleFingers came up with their version (And both those words sound really alike, and sound like the Onomatopoeia in my native language, so I'll be going with one of them a bit later...) – Fabby Feb 10 '15 at 19:04
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    In fact, the origin is much more ancient. It appears in PIE (proto-indo-european). No doubt every culture that has ever existed has had something like this, as it is imitative in nature. Latin had spuo, Greek had ptuo, etc. Another upvote from me for the same reason. – MPW Feb 11 '15 at 14:44
  • I agree with you that "spit" is an onomatopoeic word, but so is "dog" and nowadays it just "barks"... ;-) – Fabby Feb 12 '15 at 10:11
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    @Fabby Dog is onomatopoeic? How so? Its origins are entirely unknown so etymology is of no help, but it doesn't sound particularly onomatopoeic to me… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 12 '15 at 21:36
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: If you have a dog, just do the following experiment yourself: call it over, look it in the eyes and go "Dog", "Dog!", "Dog-dog-dog!", "Doooog!" and listen to its response... ;-) Dog, Hund, Hond, Собака are all onomatopoeic. – Fabby Feb 13 '15 at 6:35
4

A common phrase that has been seen in some older southern movies would be...

"Hawk a spitooey"

Not that spitooey is acceptable to use but it leads into the suggestion that "ptooey" would be the correct onomatopoeia.

  • Good to remind me of the word "hawk"... Haven't heard that since I watched some spaghetti-westerns as a kid... (worthy of an upvote!) – Fabby Feb 10 '15 at 18:58
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    It's "hock", not "hawk". Though "hock" is generally only used in the specific phrase "hock a loogie". (Interestingly, "loogie" is also only generally used in that same phrase.) – neminem Feb 11 '15 at 0:35
  • Hm, is "spitooey" possibly a play on "spitoon"? – mskfisher Feb 11 '15 at 13:31
  • or "hock a loogie" – Cody Feb 11 '15 at 22:34

protected by Andrew Leach Sep 9 '17 at 8:55

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