Definition of sponge in English:

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Pronunciation: /spənj/


1A primitive sedentary aquatic invertebrate with a soft porous body that is typically supported by a framework of fibers or calcareous or glassy spicules. Sponges draw in a current of water to extract nutrients and oxygen.
  • Phylum Porifera: several classes.
Example sentences
  • Other images are just as mystifying the spine of a sea urchin, sharks' teeth, sponges and ascidians, to name a few.
  • Chinese scholar's rocks, coral and sponges come to mind.
2A piece of a soft, light, porous substance originally consisting of the fibrous skeleton of an invertebrate but now usually made of synthetic material. Sponges absorb liquid and are used for washing and cleaning.
Example sentences
  • This increases insulation and avoids the need for surface treatment, while the vegetation absorbs rain like a sponge, reducing or at least delaying run-off.
  • These people just don't sip, they imbibe, they absorb liquor like dehydrated sponges, letting the story-soothing booze flow through their veins until it seeps from their pores in the squalid stench of defeat.
  • Be a sponge - absorb as much inspiration as you can from watching other artists perform.
2.1 [in singular] An act of wiping or cleaning with a sponge: they gave him a quick sponge down
2.2Sponge used as padding or insulating material: the headguard is padded with sponge
More example sentences
  • However, Dubuffet soon extended the meaning of the word ‘assemblage’ to cover small sculptures he made from such materials as sponge and scraps of wood.
  • In the most recent sculptures, Starr has worked with thinner slices of sponge, laid on the floor like mats or stacked like towels, all oozing floods of paint.
2.3A piece of sponge impregnated with spermicide and inserted into a woman’s vagina as a form of barrier contraceptive.
2.4 informal A heavy drinker.
2.5 [with modifier] Metal in a porous form, typically prepared by reduction without fusion or by electrolysis: platinum sponge
3British (also sponge pudding) A steamed or baked pudding of fat, flour, and eggs.
Example sentences
  • Mrs Warburton was suddenly coming towards her, holding a large slice of cream sponge on a plate.
3.1 short for sponge cake.
Example sentences
  • Eat hot with warm sponge cake or madeleines or eat thoroughly chilled aside a little mound of equal quantities of thick yoghurt and whipped cream.
  • Sometimes a different fruit is used and some cooks may substitute sponge cake for shortcake; but no alternative version can match the excellence of the original.
  • Arrowroot, a major cash crop, is used in desserts, including arrowroot sponge cake and arrowroot custard.
4 informal A person who lives at someone else’s expense.

verb (sponges, sponging or spongeing, sponged)

1 [with object] Wipe, rub, or clean with a wet sponge or cloth: she sponged him down in an attempt to cool his fever
More example sentences
  • Then she pulled the soiled blankets from beneath him, before sponging him down as she had the previous evening and wrapping him in a fresh set of sheets.
  • She gently sponged Priss’ back, watching the muscles flex against her movement.
  • Once he had been sponged and dressed by silent attendants, Hakida had lead him to a carriage and ushered him inside, then on the bumpy ride to the Vistula Temple beneath black clouds informed him of what he was to do.
wash, clean, wipe, swab;
mop, rinse, sluice, swill
1.1Remove or wipe away (liquid or a mark) with a wet sponge or cloth: I’ll go and sponge this orange juice off my dress
More example sentences
  • She bent over Milo, sponging some of the warm painkiller from a bucket next to the bed.
  • They walked back down stairs and Nicole sponged up the water that had spilt everywhere.
  • It was like I squeezed out all the water I had sponged up.
1.2Give a decorative mottled or textured effect to (a painted wall or surface) by applying a different shade of paint with a sponge.
2 [no object] informal Obtain or accept money or food from other people without doing or intending to do anything in return: they found they could earn a perfectly good living by sponging off others
More example sentences
  • Two are notable-a witty fop, who lives nearby, and a down-at-the-heels aristocrat, who has been sponging off the family for decades.
  • There Jackson became a cowardly deserter sponging off the martial generosity of Uncle Sam, a man who betrayed his comrades and never paid his gambling debts.
  • The older women are in essence sponging off the daughter, a secretary, who is marrying mainly to escape their clutches.
scrounge off/from, be a parasite on, beg from;
live off
informal freeload on, cadge from, bum off, mooch off
2.1 [with object] Obtain (something) without doing anything in return for it: he edged closer, clearly intending to sponge money from her



Example sentences
  • All papers are spongeable and have a moderate light fastness.
  • A matt varnish seals in the colour, making the paper spongeable, and a secret printing technique gives a sharp, clear pattern with a linen embossed finish.
  • The PVC based cloth is spongeable making it easy to maintain.


Pronunciation: /ˈspənjˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • Enthusiasm is crucial, as is respect, politeness and the sponge-like ability to absorb knowledge.
  • Then plant a giant green sponge-like hedge between you and the noise.
  • Do you have a washcloth I could use, instead of this purple sponge-like thing?


Old English (sense 2 of the noun), via Latin from Greek spongia, later form of spongos, reinforced in Middle English by Old French esponge.

Words that rhyme with sponge

blunge, expunge, grunge, gunge, lunge, plunge, scunge

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sponge

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