Definition of sponge in English:


Line breaks: sponge
Pronunciation: /spʌn(d)ʒ


  • 1A primitive sedentary aquatic invertebrate with a soft porous body that is typically supported by a framework of fibres or calcareous or glassy spicules. Sponges draw in a current of water to extract nutrients and oxygen.
    • Phylum Porifera: several classes
    More 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 absorbent substance originally consisting of the fibrous skeleton of an aquatic invertebrate but now usually made of synthetic material, used for washing and cleaning.
    More 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
  • 2.2 [mass noun] A soft, light, porous substance 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 barrier contraceptive in the form of a piece of soft, light, porous material impregnated with spermicide and inserted into a woman’s vagina.
  • 2.4 [mass noun, with modifier] Metal in a porous form, typically prepared by reduction without fusion or by electrolysis: platinum sponge
  • 3 (also sponge cake) British A light cake made by beating eggs with sugar, flour, and usually butter or other fat: a chocolate sponge [mass noun]: the gateau is made with moist sponge
    More 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.
  • 3.1 short for sponge pudding.
  • 4 informal A person who lives at someone else’s expense.
  • 5 informal A heavy drinker.

verb (sponges, sponging or spongeing, sponged)

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  • 1 [with object] Wipe 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.
  • 1.1Remove or wipe away (liquid or a mark) with a sponge or cloth: I’ll go and sponge this orange juice off my dress
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    • 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 effect to (a painted surface) by applying a different shade of paint with a sponge: she repainted the walls white, then sponged them in turquoise, green, and lilac
  • 1.3Decorate (pottery) using 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
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    • 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, live off, be a parasite on, impose on, beg from, borrow from, be dependent on
    informal freeload on, cadge from, bum off
    North American informal mooch off
    Australian/New Zealand bludge on
  • 2.1 [with object] Obtain (money or food) from someone without doing anything in return: he edged closer, clearly intending to sponge money from her



More 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.


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

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