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)

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    "Ach-tooey!" is my favorite! Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 16:57
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    Isn't that the one for "sneeze"? (confused) ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 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. Commented Feb 10, 2015 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
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:07
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    @KristinaLopez: Cool! Now I know ever more!
    – Fabby
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:13

4 Answers 4


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...

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

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    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
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 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). Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 0:01
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    Charlie Brown cartoons were very fond of "ptui!".
    – Alan B
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 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! :) Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 15:44
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    @FumbleFingers Given that this is spit we're talking about, a bit of 'gooeyness' makes sense.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 15:49

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.

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    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
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 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
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 22:13
  • Yes Scrabble acceptance is important!
    – tox123
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 13:27

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
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 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
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 14:44
  • I agree with you that "spit" is an onomatopoeic word, but so is "dog" and nowadays it just "barks"... ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 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… Commented Feb 12, 2015 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
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 6:35

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
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 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
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 0:35
  • Hm, is "spitooey" possibly a play on "spitoon"?
    – mskfisher
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 13:31
  • or "hock a loogie"
    – Cody
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 22:34

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