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Why Do Men Spit?

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Poor Ralph. He has no luck with the girls.

Cartoon courtesy of Grea,

Cartoon courtesy of Grea,

Spitting - Most Agree It's Disgusting

How disgusted are you when you see someone hocking a glob of gunk out of his throat and shooting that loogie onto a sidewalk, onto a stadium’s turf, onto the road from out the car window, directly into your face, and well, resurrect your memory as to where you’ve seen it land.

Does spitting belong to guys only, or is it a behavior that belongs to both sexes? When is spitting acceptable or understandable, and when is it not?

For the record, some people simply can’t spit up a hock that lies deep down in the throat, for physical or emotional reasons. They can cough it up, but they can’t spit it out. I happen to be one of them. When I was a kid and had a pleghmy cough, my mother would say, “Don’t swallow it, spit it up into this hankie.” There was no way I was going to spit gunk into a hand embroidered Irish linen hankie. Nosiree. There are spitters, then there are spit swallowers.

So, why do guys spit? Why do people spit? Why do you spit?

Some Background on Spit and Spitting

Spitting isn’t new; it’s been around for a long time. Let’s consider a few chemical, historical, and cultural aspects of the substance and practice of spitting before coming to a conclusion about why guys spit.

What is spit? Spit, purely speaking, is saliva. Produced all day every day in the mouth, it is mostly water to which is added a slippery element from the salivary glands, mucus from glands in the mouth, plus a few other chemicals including oxytocin and cortisol. Its purpose is to start the digestion process by mixing with the foods you chew. As you can imagine, even pure spit can be loaded with bacteria.

When it comes to using the verb “to spit”, the material which is spat is not so purely defined. In fact, it can be anything from the camel's undigested stomach contents to watermelon seeds to kudu dung.

Early Spitting Evidence Spitting has been around for a long time, as evidenced in ancient civilizations around the world.

Around 2,000 years ago, it was the rage among southwest Native Americans to chew shredded yucca leaves into wads, called quids, and then spit them out. Not much is known about why these early people engaged in this practice, because yucca leaves don’t taste very good and they have no mind-altering or known medicinal properties. However, scientists have had amazing success analyzing these quids for DNA and are using the results to track early migration routes.

More than 3,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians documented quite a lexicon of spells, including those that require spitting. Should you need to hex a foe, spit on one of his belongings. On the other hand, should you need to purge yourself of evil demons, spit heartily and with purpose.

Considering the robust history of spitting, I imagine many people throughout millennia had strong opinions about the practice. I don’t think we are the only ones.

The Symbolism of Spitting There is no doubt that spitting, like other base bodily functions, is drenched in its own symbolic content. As spitting is an act of purging, it can be said that spitting signifies ridding yourself of a bad feeling or a paralyzing fear. Even today, some who are superstitious believe you can rid yourself of bad luck by spitting three times after waking up from a bad dream. Spitting can represent hatred and anger as well, and in this sense it is akin to cursing at or casting spells upon a person or object, just as it was deliberately intended by the ancient Egyptians and many cultures that followed.

Acceptable and Necessary Spitting Apart from the symbolic or subconscious underpinnings of spitting, there are acceptable and necessary reasons for spitting. I think most will agree that there are situations you just can’t get through without it. Examples are getting rid of that nasty infected phlegm my mother insisted I deposit into a lace hankie, discharging the excess mucus that can build up during strenuous physical exercise and potentially interfere with effective breathing, and getting rid of the profuse moisture generated by chewing more modern quids such as chewing tobacco.

Is This Camel Spitting?

Photo courtesy   amandak27,

Camel Spit Isn't Spit At All

Contrary to popular opinion, camels don’t really spit, and what they eject isn’t spit (in the purest sense) at all. Spitting requires narrowing the lips and then propelling the contents of the mouth outward using a stream of air.

Camels simply fill their mouths with regurgtated food from their fore-stomachs, part their lips, and then fling their heads. This means that you should first, not provoke a camel, and second, keep your distance from a provoked camel.

Camels can fling enough of their partially digested food to cover the upper half of your body.

Photo courtesy amandak27,

Let's Mark Our Territory

Photo courtesy jessicasde,

Photo courtesy jessicasde,

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So Why Do Guys Practice that Disgusting Kind of Spitting?

It may be just because they can. From the viewpoint of some sociologists, the act of hanging out and spitting just for the hell of it may be a sign of males establishing territory, much like what happens when dogs pee on hydrants or bears scratch their butts against trees. Of course, human males don’t have the olfactory ability to respond to this kind of marking through scent, but they do have the ability to respond through observing gesture. Says sociologist Robert S. McCarl, "Spitting is more than just something coming out of the mouth. It's a way to appear stronger and mark your space…Males are more concerned about turf than women are. You get a group of males together, and there is a lot of posturing going on…It's basically them throwing down a challenge."

Let’s talk about the baseball field for a minute. Who hasn’t witnessed loogies being spat at all times, just about everywhere they can be? I found a fascinating series of comments right from guys’ mouths about why they spit while playing ball. Many younger players openly admit that they do it simply because they think it’s a way to look cool, just like their heroes. Others say it’s a way to relieve tension during the game, especially if you’re in the dugout, warming up, or waiting out a referee’s disputed decision. Here’s my favorite comment about why guys spit in the ballpark: On the baseball field it is acceptable, so every guy out there is getting his fill before he has to go back to the real world and stop.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no universally accepted reason for guys spitting. They've been doing it for thousands of years, and despite laws against spitting as well as negative public opinion, they'll probably be doing it for thousands more.

Cartoon courtesy of Grea,

Cartoon courtesy of Grea,

Not Only Do Guys Like To Spit, They Like to Tell Stories About It

Gals Spit, Too

Women spit, like men do, for many of the same reasons: to show contempt, to ward off evil, and for health reasons. What they don't do, usually, is spit to mark territory. Apparently, once again according to Robert S. McCarl, women in general are less territorial than men; women don't have a tendency to hang out on street corners and posture with their spittle. However, their spitting can be just as shocking. In the 1948 film, Key Largo, Lauren Bacall's character, Norma Temple, disregards any fear she has for the dangerous Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, when she sprays his face with perfectly spat spit.

Let's Hear It from the Guys and Gals Who Spit

If you spit, guy or gal, why do you? If the poll questions don't cover your reasons, please feel free to elaborate in a comment.

I'm a Guy and I Spit in Public

I'm a Gal and I Spit in Public


Disgusted Mom. on July 09, 2018:

My about to be son-in-law spits his tobacco over the side of our boat and over the side of our back deck onto the sand below and into a empty water bottle when he's indoors, it's absolutely disgusting and is driving me crazy, how do I say something without hurting anyones feelings? My daughter is so classy I can't believe she thinks this is ok?

Cal on June 16, 2018:

i spit because everyone around me spits so i just sort of copied to begin with. I'm 16 and go to an all boys school and literally everyone spits. I definately feel cool spitting and i fit in with everyone around me. But i still spit outside of school simply because i think its cool and it definitely asserts a sort of masculine dominance. I don't plan on stopping spitting anytime soon and i aren't ashamed to do it.

P on June 07, 2017:

I'm a young, healthy, educated male adult, and I spit at least 30 times every day and blow my nose like 20 times a day. What I spit is NOT only SALIVA, it is mixed with bogeys from my nose, which sometimes stay in the nose so I have to blow my nose, but half of time it goes down into the throat, probably post-nasal drip that accumulates in the neck area of the throat, and it gets stuck there. Does anyone try to swallow the bogeys from their nose? I don't think so. Sometimes it is just a little bit, and sometimes it is a HUGE ball of weird sticky stuff. And if it's already stuck in my throat then it's obviously not an option to swallow it, since it were just saliva I would have swallowed it without thinking. The problem is that this bogey is too sticky and my "swallowing muscles" cannot make it roll down my esophagus into the stomach. BUT if I take a deep and hard breath, this force WILL make it go down, but it will make it go down the trachea and into my lungs and make me choke. So I have to roll up my throat and eject it into my mouth and then spit it out forcefully to make sure it doesn't just stay stuck onto my tongue and then I have to brush it off with my finger.

Also, it is not an option to cough it up into the mouth and then try to swallow it through the glotis and into the stomach, since it is very STICKY and it just won't go down the glotis, instead it will GET STUCK AGAIN in the same place in the throat.

The spitting (and blowing my nose) usually concentrates in the morning when I wake up, whenever I'm working out or in a tense situation where I need to breathe perfectly to perform properly, and for 30 minutes after that; and finally at night when I'm trying to fall asleep.

I actually searched the internet to find out how girls can live WITHOUT spitting. All I have found is a bunch of delusional thoughts about bravado, so I'm going back to my "scientific" approach.

I have read that smokers spit a lot, and I think that might be one of the reasons why I spit so much, although I have never ever smoked anything, BUT my father smoked almost every day all his life, so he probably conditioned my genetically to have mucose problems. I have also stopped consuming "milk products" and "gluten" products 6 months ago, which has improved my health in many ways, but it hasn't reduced my mucose production yet.

But since most girls clearly don't spit EVER and most guys spit ALL THE TIME, and the ratio of smokers and non-smokers in both sexes is similar, and diets are also similar, there must be ANOTHER physiolgical reason, and the only one I can think of is this: currently MOST men use their physical strength much more often than MOST women, so they are USED TO TAKING DEEPER AND STRONGER BREATHS, which make it NECESSARY TO clear your breathing vents when there is something stuck in it. Consequently, men will spit even when they are not exercising vigourously just because they are VERY SENSITIVE to their breathing flow, and want to keep it at an optimal level even during everyday activities. On the other hand, MOST GIRLS even gross themselves out if they find out their own body is sweating, so obviously they have NO IDEA what strong physical exertion feels like, and they never breathe hard and deep enough to feel the need to perfectly clear their throats. I am pretty sure this is a valid reasoning, because recently I have seen an INCREASE in the amount of girls working out in an ACTUALLY vigorous manner (even sweating) at the fitness centre, and I DO see them blow their nose AND SPIT into paper towels quite often, which I had never seen until a few months ago.

And the reason why I often spit on the road is because I have to spit hard so the bogey-saliva mix doesn't stay stuck on my tongue, so I need a new tissue ALMOST every time I spit; because if the tissue has already been used it is less robust and also crumpled, so my spit can actually break through the tissue and make a mess in my hands. So I would go through at least 2 packages of pocket tissues every day, which in my opinion is much more harmful to the planet than spitting on the road (where the cars go, not on the sidewalk nor pedestrian crossing) or into a bin, so people should not have to step on it.

As a final note, of course some men spit "with social intent" and some spit in inappropriate places, but they would have to spit anyway. It's just like peeing, every animal hast to pee anyway. Dogs could just pee in a dedicated spot every time if they wanted to be polite, or they can also use it to mark their territory, but that has nothing to do with the actual physiological necessity to pee at one time or another in the day.

S on June 03, 2016:

Whenever I see a man spitting (I've never witnessed a woman doing so) I think he's a low-class bum with no good sense, no manners, and no decent upbringing about him. In fact, if a spitting man comes near my car, I'll honk and tell him he doesn't need to do that so openly near my car, or in front of other people, or where others are about to walk, because it is terribly disgusting and dirty. And if he has aides or Hep C, and so on, well... sheesh, that's a no-brainer that he certainly has no comprehension of how not to spread disease. He can carry a handkerchief, a can, or a jar which he can later properly dispose of. If you must spit, you should never do it in front of others and especially not where people could fall over into your disgusting fluids, you neanderthal.

Several years back as I was walking into a grocery market, some low-class neanderthal scrum-ball stopped right at the entrance of Homeland and spit a giant one, right on the entrance walk-through. He didn't even look back to make sure he didn't get it in anyone's path, or on anyone! As it was, my 14-month old was waddling behind him, so as that disgusting thing spat out his bodily fluids, I scooped up my baby as he toddled over, just missing that slimy pile of who-know-what!

Spitting like that in public areas should be made illegal. In fact, all because of that stinky, low-life, poor excuse of a man, we left that market, Homeland, and never returned there ever again. That is a mental pictured scarred into my memory, and my "baby" is now 19 years old. My husband has never - not ever, spat in front of me, thank goodness! He's a gentleman, so not all men are disgusting. We raised our sons to respect people, and other things like knowing better than to spit in public.

Lastly, it may be his "right" to spit, but others have rights, too, and many of us wish not to be subject to your nasty ways. Take it behind a large bush, you pig.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on October 24, 2013:

My theory has always been that the reason women tend to outlive men is that we don't spit.

Indones on October 22, 2013:

I have a bad experience regarding spitting. When I was 7 years old, my babysitter spat on my cheek and mouth purposely . I knew she did in term of playing . Now I am 43 , expecting she come and do again weird

Jim on March 24, 2013:

Spitting for men is only another one of the pleasures they like to experience like having an orgasm, gas, and other discharges from their bodies whatever they may be. Though they will never admit it. They feel a sense of relief with any if them.

Susannah on July 07, 2012:

Well there may be ambivolence but not much here across the pond. Granted our wet and rainy weather in this summer has caused a few more colds and such like recently and increased the number of ladies spitting here... All I can say is I am far from alone. If exercised carefully and away from another person then what is the problem? Without lowering the tone of this blog, you cannot tell me that the "anti" females do not indulge in spitting in certain private moments behind closed doors so to speak! They are not concerned about public perception and spreading germs at these moments I guess. So why criticise those of us that have no problem with this issue? Would be interesting to see the honest truth if a survey was conducted regarding public spitting of maybe one hundred women. I'm hitting the London shops with my credit card in a while, if I feel the need to spit, I will. I will not be the only one by far. I'd wager a thousand pounds on that one.....Oh, by the way, ours is a free country as is yours so I do hope the day never arrives that I have to locate a spitoon or face a hefty fine!! Thanks for listening/reading! Sue

! on June 07, 2012:

Oh my goodness, I kept meaning to look this up on google because unnecessary spitting by men has bothered me for decades! I guess what finally drove me to research this tonight is my eight year old son's recent habit of spitting outside for no reason. My husband does not spit usually (except when exercising vigorously- I read the comments of some that suggested this is a normal phenomenon- although I have never experienced this personally during vigorous excercise- and I suffer from both environmental allergies and asthma). I cannot get my son to stop, although I've told him it is disgusting and that girls don't like it. The psychology of men doing it to appear "tough" makes sense to me and it seems obvious the ones that exhibit this behavior the most are probably the most insecure...which is why I find heterosexual men that are not afraid to wear pink extremely masculine. As for necessary and unnecessary spitting...if you are in a public place and realize you've inadvertantly put something in your mouth that is dangerous (took a bite of something with peanuts when you have anaphylactic peanut allergy, accidentally bit into the suicide chicken wings when you can only handle mild, etc. it is acceptable to do whatever you need to, including spitting- to eradicate the danger from your mouth). Also, when you have congestion in your lungs- it is acceptable to hock, hack, or cough up whatever "fur balls" you need to, in order to clear your lungs...IN THE BATHROOM!! Sometimes you may have to cough that "phlegmy cough" in front of others when you cannot excuse yourself quickly enough and don't want to choke to death on your own snot. If this happens, say "excuse me" and go to the bathroom if you are not finished. I will say that since I have suffered from year round allergies since my youth, and then asthma as an adult, I know how to bring up phlegm and spit it out when I'm sick. In fact, I am pretty sure this will extend my life somewhat because it can get really dangerous to have that gunk fester in your body- especially in the elderly- next thing you know you are in the hospital- and then you may catch a hospital or nosocomial infection that is unresponsive to most antibiotics. Anyway, I want to make the point that depending on how thick the mucous is, swallowing isn't always an option. Sometimes it is so thick, you cannot really swallow it effectively (you realize this because no matter how much you swallow- you don't feel better- and the urge to swallow doesn't go away). At this point you realize you need to cough it up...literally. So personally, I swallow when I can, but hack it up when I have to....! As for the people who have "sinus issues" this is not an excuse to spit in public! Go see an allergist, or take OTC medications (pseudoephedrine- may have to show id to buy behind the counter- but it is the best decongestant), and/or an antihistamine (claritin, allegra, zyrtec). Heck if it's allergies and you can't take meds- see an allergist and get allergy shots. I get them and they WORK! Show your masculinity and get a shot instead of spewing your saliva. If none of the above work for you, use a Sinus Rinse...Neilmed makes a good one- get the squirter bottle that you mix a saline packet with warm water and shoot up one nostril (over the sink) and it eventually comes out the other nostril (with all the gunk you've been storing in your sinuses). Repeat for the other nostril. Do this when you first get a cold and you will be amazed at what comes fact you will become a regular sinus rinse user because it is that DISGUSTIMUNDO!! I recommend the squirter bottle over the Netipot, because it works by force (you squeezing the bottle) over gravity (you pouring the Netipot into one nostril...) Alright spitting men,...stop making excuses and start acting like manly enough in your own masculinity to find a better way of dealing with your spit and posturing. By the way, does anyone have any ideas on how to convince an eight year old boy to stop spitting? My husband hasn't been much help, unfortunately....

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 10, 2012:

billybuc, your comment reminded me of a dear friend of mine who loved baseball. She passed about ten years ago, having a long life of 90+ years. She was a Phillies fan. Toward the end of her life, watching the Phillies on TV instead of in the stadium, she got annoyed by the camera's focus on the team's spitting habits. Toward the end of her life, she didn't even want to watch the World Series on TV, for all the spitting.

I like Graham's comment above, "older men should know better," and it seems that's the place you've come to, as well.

Glad you found this a darn good read. :) ~Sherri

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 09, 2012:

Well I just had to read this one; evidently quite a few other people felt the same. What a hoot and I readily admit when I was younger and played baseball I spit for decades on the playing field. I have noticed now that I am older I no longer do it although I didn't realize that fact until I read this hub.

For me it was always nervous energy while playing ball; I would never spit anywhere else other than the baseball field. Anyway, fascinating, interesting, funny and a darn good read.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 09, 2012:

Linda, check out my other three hubs on spitting. It's a complex subject. My grandmother spit...some can swallow phlegm and some can't. Hope you voted in the poll above about gals who spit. :)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on April 09, 2012:

Who would have thought an entire hub on spitting! This is awesome! I'm a spitter in a gal kinda way, I have no choice. Sometimes. I like a watermelon seed contest too! This was too funny! You gotta do what you gotta do, but in the face is taboo!!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 09, 2012:

Three boys? God bless! You've got your work cut out for you. TY for the votes and share. Glad this information is helpful. :)

kelleyward on April 09, 2012:

This is so great! As a mom of three boys informatn like this comes in handy. Voted up and shared!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 03, 2012:

Graham, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here. I like what you had to say about older men knowing better. At some place along life's time line, older people (both men and women), ought to have more on their minds than marking territory and decorating themselves around marked territory. There is much beauty in the aging process that has nothing to do with territory, and that's the legacy we need to be leaving for those who come up behind us.

About spitting on the field of play. A wonderful older woman friend of mine, who passed about 10 years ago at a ripe old age, was a huge baseball fan. Toward the end of her life, she stopped watching the World Series on TV because she couldn't stand the camera shots of all the spitting. She'd had enough. It seemed to her that spitting more than playing got the press. :)

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, and also for jogging some thoughts and memories of mine.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on April 03, 2012:

Hello Sally's Trove. As a male I find spitting to be reprehensible. I fear in younger men it is they think, a way of showing thet are 'tough' or trying to be the 'leader' of the pack. Subconciously they think, it is striking fear into the other pack members. Older men should know better, however there is sometimes a genuine need to spit on the field of play.


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 01, 2012:

LOL, Gemini! I actually have four more spitting articles "in the wings" so to speak. I just need the time to get them done.

Yes, spitting is illegal in Singapore, not so much in England. Our friends across the Atlantic pond seem to have the same ambivalence we do toward the practice. There are laws on the books, but they are seldom enforced.

Getting a bug in the mouth is by all means a reason to spit...please don't hold back!

Thank you for the interesting comment.

Gemini Fox on February 29, 2012:

FOUR hubs on spitting - lol! But I don't blame you in the least!

My Mom was English and she always hated people (men) who spat. Think it was illegal in England (or used to be - and is today in Singapore?) due to the spread of disease. It really is gross.

A friend and I walk in the park and there was a guy walking in front of us, spitting continuously, ON the sidewalk and we had to keep walking around it - YUCK!

Course if I suddenly ran into a bug I might make an exception to all of this :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 21, 2012:

mamalila, I played guitar and piano; my ex-husband, tuba. I admit and agree with you that I couldn't take the idea of slobbering saliva on a musical instrument; neither flute nor trumpet nor French horn would ever have been my choice, even if I could take the mouthpieces with me from instrument to instrument.

Bodily fluids belong in your own body. Well, unless of course you are making a baby. In which case you have an intimate relationship...wait...I'm digging myself into a hole!

I don't know what Hubs I've written that may help you cure other phobias or help you settle other irks. But I'm so glad for your comment.

JNSimmons from Washington, DC on February 21, 2012:

So gross and yet.... soooo Good! I hate spit! I play string instruments because I couldn't bare having a spit valve like a flute or something you put your mouth on. I'm not squeamish about much but spit..... yuck.

However, I don't know what made me come here but I'm so glad I did. My distaste for spit is still there but oddly enough, I can find it in my heart to accept the nature of spitting. What other phobias and irks can Sally's Trove help me cure? I'm going to find out.


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 18, 2012:

Thank you Grandpineapple and jade hornby for sharing your thoughts.

jade hornby on February 18, 2012:

I do not accept any comments or excuse for this. It is not cultural. It is uncivilised and can spread TB. IN Africa it is banned. If you spit near me, beware. Not even an animal does this. and your posts to try and explain this are just unbelievably stupid.

Grandpineapple on January 26, 2012:

I think it is disgusting when done for the sake of it but I can't help but spit when I'm endurance running and I know I'm not the only one because look at sports players football/rugby.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 30, 2011:

Susannah, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Just saying, from my own observations according to how I was raised, spitting in the sight of others is a sign of contempt. I don't think I'm alone in that judgment. But I totally agree that you need no lecturing by do gooders.

I saw your comment on my article about spittoon photos in history...I'm off to respond to it there.

Susannah on December 29, 2011:

I have no idea why public opinion has such a taboo opinion on spitting, in particular ladies spitting. Yes, as a lady, I may spit three to four times a day and the same if out at night. I am always conscious of people around me, so when possible, find a quiet space on the street, or anywhere else before I spit. Whilst I cannot change opinions of anybody who sees me, I would never spit close to another person in a street, bar, or anywhere else. I am a 42 y.o woman,intelligent, professional, and as I am told, attractive. I am not a child who needs lecturing by do gooders!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 21, 2011:

Yes, it would seem spitting can define a lifestyle. Thanks for sharing, Aric!

Aric on December 15, 2011:

It's a territorial thing for me, also with my asthma I hock up alot of phlegm, swallowing just adds to the problem. I feel more manlier when I spit. When I need to omit alpha status onto my peers, spitting shall be done. I work in construction - cigarettes, dip, spitting, cat calling is nothing new.


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 14, 2011:

Matt, let's see what readers have to say. :)

Matt on December 14, 2011:

Does anybody know why sherlock-in the film-took the 'spitting' seriously when in the ring after getting the handkerchief from adler

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 28, 2011:

Spittersaregross, thank you for sharing your views. If people stop and give the issue some thought, I doubt any would say they don't mind tracking another's bodily fluids into their own homes.

Spittersaregross on November 27, 2011:

I hate it when people spit. I have never seen a woman spit. Not that they don't. It's just more of a male behavior. Well, I am a guy and I am grossed out by it. Mostly because men do it all over where I live. On the steps, in the outside stairs, in the parking and driveway areas, and on the sidewalks. All I can think of is that, hey, what if I stepped in your spit on my way into my home? Now I am tracking your snot and saliva into my private place. I have to make sure as to not step in your spit. I should not have to do that. You should have the common decency to at least spit somewhere that people won't be walking or stepping and tracking your spit.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 17, 2011:

I share yuk with you.

Andria on November 16, 2011:


Actually was testing the minimum word count for comments. Didn't appear. Yukky hub though, you know, the topic. I hate spitters :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 28, 2011:

LOL, Marwan, the Middle East does not claim the only rights to spitting. What surprised me as I wrote this series of articles was how little the authorities are willing to do to curtail spitting in public places. Certainly, spitting is a behavior as old as mankind, and so it's not going to go away any time soon. Thank you for reading and leaving your cross-cultural comment. It IS a small world, after all. :)

Marwan Asmar from Amman, Jordan on October 28, 2011:

Very creative! And I thought we are the only nation of spitters in the world, I mean Jordanians and Arabs. It turns out you have a lot of spitters, disgusting but wounderful to share the cultures!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 10, 2011:

Ralph, what you are describing is more prevalent than one might suspect, although it's not talked about very much. This article from the Mayo Clinic may be helpful to you:

RALPH on June 09, 2011:

i have had a problem with spitting a lot lately because my mouth fills up very bad i dont know what causes this i even drollall over my self at night i am looking for a cure i set around the house with a cup near i cant find anything funny about this like you people can i am looking for a cause and cure for this this is a problem not something funny RALPH

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 16, 2011:

Thanks for chiming in here, Mrs. J. B. As you know, you have plenty of company!

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on February 16, 2011:

Spitting is one of my ultimate pet peeves. It is a total turn off.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 03, 2011:

Melvin, thank you so much for leaving your very insightful comment.

Before I started researching spitting, I was so repulsed by the practice that I didn't want to hear about it, let alone think about it. My eyes were closed, too.

Indeed, spitting is a practice that evokes strong emotional responses from non-practitioners. Your words are worthy of further research into spitting, specifically into the emotional responses spitting elicits in those who don't spit.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 03, 2011:

Deni, captivating...I was goin' for that! Believe me when I tell you I never thought I'd ever write about spitting, but it turned out to be fascinating subject, to the point where I've written four Hubs about it and have three more in the works. Thank you so much for the good words!

Melvin on February 03, 2011:

It's disgusting! It's gross! I do not know how to spit. I will not spit just because I do not know how to spit. I have seen some guys spitting and I wonder why? What have I done something wrong? Do I know them? why do they spit? But, I came here and thanks to this site for opening my eyes and now I understand why. It's not funny, but I do not pay them attention.

Jenifer L from california on February 03, 2011:

This is a great hub...interesting, funny, and even captivating. Loved it from start to finish. I never imagined that I would write comments like this about a hub on spitting.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 28, 2010:

Glad you had a good laugh, Nell! This was my first spitting Hub. My approach to the next two was more serious, while the most recent returns to humor. I find the whole subject fascinating and by turns either sad or hysterical.

Nell Rose from England on December 28, 2010:

Hi, Ha ha, I came over because of the link, really funny! cheers nell

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 23, 2010:

Peg, I am having a huge gut laugh. One would think, after all these years, the word "spitting" just ought to be put on a warning sign. Apparently some kind of PC language about spitting has been going on for at least a century. HA!

Thanks so much for your awesome comment. Glad you enjoyed!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 23, 2010:

This article was great fun to read along with all the confessions from other readers. It cleared up several things about the practice including why people spit three times after hearing bad news etc.

I remember reading a sign long ago that said "No Expectorating on Sidewalk" and I had to look up the word. From the looks of the WMart parking lot some other folks didn't know either. Fun read.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 17, 2010:

I so admire your outspokenness, especially including your remedy of using an electroshock device.

What are guys so afraid of that they can't quit spitting? Losing their territory to a dog?

Thanks for enriching this Hub with clear speaking on clear thoughts.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 17, 2010:

Oh, dear! EEEWWWWwwww!!! Seeing anyone (guy or gal) spit disgusts me! If you MUST spit, do so in private, and into an acceptable receptacle--e.g. the sink or toilet, and follow with a flushing!

I am with Marisue, the'gagger' on that count! As far as the Titanic comments.. LOL I remember one day a friend's teen daughter came home and boasted her proudest accomplishment: "Today I learned how to spit like a guy!" Gross!! Nothing to brag about.

As far as the 'sick/germy/mucus' thing...well, either option is unpleasant, but, (pardon the graphic description) you are already sick--you cannot re-infect yourself by swallowing: you've now got an immunity built up to that particular germ. In fact, disgusting as it sounds, it's a form of protein, and will be digested & go through that normal process. So, in the etiquette department, IMO, if you're in public, swallowing (yes, yuck) is the more socially acceptable solution.

I think guys could be cured of this habit if their 'spitter' were hooked up to an electroshock device tethered to their..... .... (insert censored anatomical part).... :-D

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 14, 2010:

LOL bladesofgrass. That is such a beautiful visual. I hadn't thought about Proud Mom's avatar. You nailed that right on the head. Thank you so much for reading and leaving this wonderfully provoking comment. Now we're all going to look at Proud Mom in a different light.

bladesofgrass from The Fields of Iowa on June 14, 2010:

Who knew there was so much information on spitting? Great Hub! I don't know which had me laughing more..the information in the article or reading "Proud Mom's" comment about how she doesn't spit and having her baby avatar stare at me, like she was actually saying it. LOL

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 14, 2010:

CVR, India is not alone when it comes to spitting! Perhaps spitting is not quite as widely spread here as it is in India, but there's enough of it here that something serious needs to be done about it.

I'm glad you mentioned Singapore. It may be the one place in the world where anti-spitting laws are religiously enforced. I'm sure Americans who visit Singapore admire the same things as your countrymen do, and probably behave in the same way and complain in the same way when they return!

Thanks so much for adding interest to this Hub with your comment.

Disillusioned from Kerala, India on June 14, 2010:


I write from a country where spitting is the past time of a vast majority of male population! In a way it is heartening to read this article because I was all along thinking that it's only in India that spitting is so hopelessly wide spread!

In Singapore, I understand spitting in public places as well as littering is banned. The popular joke in India is that people will visit Singapore as tourists and shower accolades on the cleanliness and discipline of the city but when they return to India, the first thing they do is to spit and throw litter and start complaining why India is so dirty!


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 16, 2010:

So glad you got a good laugh, Nick! Thanks for reading and commenting.

nick247 from United Kingdom on April 16, 2010:

LOL. That's all :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 13, 2010:

Jimbo, thanks for your comment.

Jimbo on March 13, 2010:

There is the rare exception where it may be necessary for a person to spit, but most of the time it's just a disgusting and childish activity.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on December 27, 2009:

Camlo, each of us has our own "art" so to speak. Spitting certainly isn't mine, and it wasn't yours. Let's leave the master spitters to themselves. And, as you implied, move on from one object of admiration to another.

As always, I so appreciate your comments.


Camlo De Ville from Cologne, Germany on December 25, 2009:

Hi Sherri!

I never thought anyone could ever write anything this interesting on spitting.

For a while, when I was at school, I tried spitting, but others could do it better so I gave up. Some had it down to a fine art ... I remember one boy in particular -- he could eject little drops of spit from the tip of his tongue at the speed of a machine gun, or so it seemed. Had my full admiration.

I've changed a lot since then :-)

That a history of spitting has been recorded surprised me, and it's quite fascinating, which surprised me even more.

Thanks for a very interesting Hub!

All the best, Camlo

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 31, 2009:

Ivorwen, I was going for that!

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on October 30, 2009:

This is the most scientific look at spitting I have ever seen. :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 30, 2009:

Lady_E, what a good idea! If everybody who sees a spitter oinks out loud, that might be more of an effective deterrent than any of the laws on the books. Thanks for reading--and laughing!

Elena from London, UK on October 29, 2009:

Yuck! lol. I thought this only happened in London. It disgusts me, especially the noise they make before spitting. When they do I whisper under my breath "oink, oink". lol. There should be a Law against it. :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 01, 2009:

OGT, so glad you had a good rollicking laugh about this. Ain't it the hoot! Or the spit, or whatever!

OneGypsyTraveler from Grimsley, Tennessee on September 30, 2009:

roflmao !! O man Sallys Trove, lololol You got it on the head

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 29, 2009:

Sneak, thanks so much for sharing your story. You and your wife have my vote!

sneakorocksolid on August 28, 2009:

Sally Great Hub! Spitting is a nasty habbit and it almost got my son killed. We were at one of his baseball games, I didn't notice any thing unusual except my wife was glaring at our son on third base. I asked what's up and she said if your kid(if he's messing up he's my kid because I think it's funny, women) spits one more time I'm going out on that field and kick his butt. I said let me handle it and I spoke with him. ( better cool-it your Moms pissed)

mikeq107 on August 27, 2009:

Hi Sally :0)

I have been away alot too.

We moved to Bend the high desert here...Winters will be cold..s maybe i will get back t the keyboard..

Later :0)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 27, 2009:

Hey Mike, long time no see...not because of you but because of me. I've been a little absent around HP these days.

Love the images you created in your comment above about those Irish buckets. You are right. CSI could have at least a 2-hour episode around the contents of just one bucket.

I need to travel over to see what you've been up to. All the best to you and Cynthia!

mikeq107 on August 27, 2009:

Hey long time no see :0)

Got thinking about you were the first person ( Lady ) to comment on my hubs ...SOOOOOOOO thought I would drop by to say HI how`s it going :):):):):) xxoxo

Well it looks like you are mangeing quite nicely ...spitting...I can still remember brass buckets in pubs in Ireland next to the bar counter in the mens bar...(women drank in the lounge)...

Of course the idea was to spit out chewing tobaco etc..but as the individual drank a little to much...the journey to the bathroom became an impoosible there after it became known as the piss bucket..

Today CSI would have a ball with that bucket...

Think I just figured out where " PISS OFF " came from...A wet unwelcome guest at the pub!!!!

Later michael xoxo :0)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 11, 2009:

Hey, funnebone, nice to see you. Yes, I'm still questioning my mental state about this, since I have two more Hubs about the topic lined up. Clearly there's something wrong here! Thanks for the good words.

funnebone from Philadelphia Pa on August 10, 2009:

Awww thuffering thucatash! I spit cause I got a big gap in my teeth...If I spit in the woods and nobody sees it, did it happen?...I really question your mental state to have researched this topic, and mine for reading about it...great job as always

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 08, 2009:

J, thanks for sharing your considered analysis of this act that you witnessed. Your analysis is the proof in the pudding that there is a story in everything, if only we choose to look, and that there are some things out there we will never know the reason for. Glad you found this Hub of interest. Best regards, S.

J on August 07, 2009:

Interesting article. Especially "The Symbolism of Spitting" section.

I've wondered if spitting had something to do with guys marking territory and "trying to look tough" and things like underlying hatred/jealousy/anger. Just today I'm walking down the street with a female friend. There was this guy across the street just standing there waiting for someone to finish chatting in the driveway or something. Out the corner of my eye I see him looking at us, then as soon as I glance over, he just spits, looks at me, then looks away. Out of the blue. I just ignored it but I saw him looking at us again occasionally until I said goodbye to my friend, got in my car and drove away. Kind of amusing in a way. The guy looked like hillbilly trash so I didn't care, but on the drive home I wondered about the subconscious aspects of it. Was he disgusted for some reason? Possibly. My friend is as white as what can be and I'm a couple shades darker. Maybe the guy is one of those quiet racist types. Was he "marking territory"? I'm a visitor in the neighborhood. I believe he lives there. Lots of interesting thoughts like that. Or maybe he just caught a fly in his mouth or something and had to spit. And furthermore was a little embarrassed about it. Unlikely but somewhat believable. Nonetheless, thanks again for the hub.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 19, 2009:

Richard, thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Never having had the honor of being spit upon by a camel, I had no idea about the facts either. Guess we are all better informed!

Richard Ring from Tokyo, Japan on July 19, 2009:

VERY interesting about Camel Spit, had no idea it wasn't really spit (nor that they could cover the upper half of your body). I don't spit, personally, but I know more about it now for those that do (and knowing is half the battle).

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 13, 2009:

I must say, this is one I haven't heard, slava. So I did a little research before making my comment to yours. Thanks for adding this information about fetish spitting. Apparently there are some out there who are exactly the opposite of repulsed by someone else's spit.

slava on June 13, 2009:

there is a thing called fetish spitting

sometimes i see teen girls spitting on the ground and i'm so temted to gather it off and taste

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on May 11, 2009:

Why, MissJamieD, what a colorful vocabulary you have, and this subject matter lets you show it off just perfectly! Couldn't have said it better myself. LOL. Thanks so much for the great comment!

MissJamieD from Minnes-O-ta on May 11, 2009:

When I see someone spitting I want to puke, and then punch them in the mouth so they aren't able to continue such a disgusting topic, I love it:)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on May 11, 2009:

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment, Greg.

Greg on May 10, 2009:

I am a teacher and the other teachers I work with are so anal they have stopped the boys from spitting during recess. I mean the boys run and they spit periodically and these people get bent out of shape over it.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 16, 2009:

Jaspal, you were lucky indeed not to see spitting during your trip to the US. There's plenty of it. I guess it depends on where you are in the US (urban, suburban, rural), and that's a huge topic in itself.

For the most part, women spit only either because they are sick and have to, or out of contempt (as in the clip from Key Largo, above).

When researching this topic, I learned that spitting: is strongly rooted in certain cultural traditions; can be successfully legislated and prosecuted anywhere in the world; is still a health hazard in places around the globe where tuberculosis is alive and well; has many colors depending on what the "stimulant" is.

When I wrote these two Hubs, I knew that the material I had gathered would be good for another 9 or 10 Hubs on the subject.

Thank you so much for lending your insights and experience to this topic. (I'm not sayin', mind you, that YOU spit. :p)

Jaspal from New Delhi, India on April 16, 2009:

I did not know that people (okay, men) even in the great US of A spat. I was lucky not to see any during a recent visit which covered many states there.

Here, in India, it is unfortunately a very common occurrence. It’s almost like breathing for many. And our Government and the authorities seem to have accepted it as a fait accompli. It’s something no one can do anything about.

So, what’s the cure? If you cannot stop people from peeing, might as well build urinals. Many public places like railway stations, bus stops, high rise buildings, their stairways and lobbies, shopping complexes, Government offices have 'spittoons' placed at strategic, hard-to-miss spots. But, you guessed it, the spitting brigade does not like to direct its energies and streams of colored saliva towards those receptacles. They prefer the freshly painted white walls, doorways and even marble floors.

The stimulants which promote spitting seem to be betel leaves, raw or dried areca nut (known also as supari, tamul or kawai.) Then there is paan, a lethal though tasty combination of the two and some other juicy stuff! And, of course there is the good old tobacco cud.

Don’t women spit in the US? They do here, but not quite as openly and flamboyantly as their menfolk?

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 31, 2009:

Hey Trisha, thanks for reading and commenting. I'm kind of partial to the bears' butts, too.

Trisha's Artworks on March 31, 2009:

Cool hub....Yeah ive noticed that some guys spit....i love the part about bears scratching their butt against a tree trunk...hahaha

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 21, 2009:

Thanks for putting your two cents in here, Tom. We need more refreshing perspectives from men on this Hub! Glad you enjoyed the read.

Tom Cornett from Ohio on March 20, 2009:

Men began spitting because they weren't allowed to pee in public anymore...... to mark their territory. :)

Nice Hub!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 18, 2009:

I tend to agree with you, Lena, about the Y chromosome. I think some guys who spit never think about, they just do it, and since no one has asked them why, they don't know. Isn't that something? But maybe that's true about a lot ofbehaviors (male or female)...if you're not called on it or asked about it, then maybe you don't know why you do it. Hmmmm...I feel another Hub coming on. Maybe something about the unexamined life not worth living. LOL.

Lena M. from Toronto on March 18, 2009:

Haha! I was looking at your hubs and when I saw the title of this one I knew I had to read it. Just the other day, I asked one of my close male friends (who happens to used to play baseball) about the whole spitting thing and he gave me this total blank stare and an "I don't know." I personally think it's a whole Y chromosome thing. Even my grandfather does it, so I don't think it's to be cool.

I haven't seen many females spit. Maybe I should go watch a softball game and see what happens.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 15, 2009:

annemaeve, a necessary part of going through life (I believe) is defying convention, or at least thinking about defying it (not all can or will do this). If you do defy it, then you make a step in a direction, and I believe your life is framed from that step forward. You might get the reactions you hope for, but then, you might get the opposite. The important thing is that you take the step...and then you deal with what happens.

So, your comment here is very refreshing...I hope you voted in the poll. because, to date, no women have admitted to spitting in public. Perhaps you will enlighten us in a new Hub about women spitting.

Now, when will they try to legislate against dog drool?

Your utmost fan, Sally.

annemaeve from Philly Burbs on March 15, 2009:

Awesome hub as always, Sally! I THOUGHT I was totally against spitting, but then I realized... ohmigosh... I used to spit all the time in college... in front of people... and I ENJOYED IT!

No, it wasn't for a watermellon-seed-spitting-contest, a keg-party dare, or a territorial rite. When brushing VERY dusty horses, I would get dirt in my mouth and on my teeth! It felt good to spit out the dust on the ground, but also, in a very twisted way, it felt good to do something so nasty and biological. I hope the only reasons felt comfortable doing it because I was in a dirty barn, and had a legitimate need to clean my mouth out. Now, of course, I'm much more civilized about horse-dirt-mouth, and wipe it out on a damp paper towel!

Was I a twisted freak? I hope not. But maybe I saw a bit of the appeal for people who do like to spit. It was ummm... liberating, a little? Maybe I was daring people to take offense at my action? Is that why the "bad boys" in leather jackets do it? Hmmm...

On a related note, Trish, when I read your comment about your co-worker and her ummm... "nasal spitting", I remembered where I've seen that behavior before. I think it might BE a Russian thing, because I love watching hockey, and half the hot sweaty beefcake men on the bench do the same thing! Most of them come from Eastern Europe or Canada these days, right? And I can't imagine the land of frighteningly clean subway systems spawning a load of nose-spitting gorillas...

Well, I'm off to walk the dog. He doesn't spit so much as drool, so I can't really ask his opinion on the matter. Keep up the great writing, Sally, we love it!!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 13, 2009:

Theophanes, I see that you were lost, but I hope that now you are found. :)

I've never been regurgitated upon by a camel or a llama. It can't be pleasant. I hope I've learned enough from writing this Hub and from the awesome comments to it that I will keep myself absolutely outside the spitting range of either camel or llama.

Yeah, those quids are really cool. Imagine that! Somebody two thousand years older than the rest of us, chewing and spitting, just like us.

Thanks so much for your very cool comments.

Theophanes Avery from New England on March 13, 2009:

Another great article but you kind of lost me at the camel part.... after reading that all I could think of is being drenched by a pissed off camel! Ewe! I've had llamas eye me up befor contemplating mowing me down with spit... alas they didn't but those beasties really have phenomanal aim! Oh and I loved the Yucca quids! That must be like a "first time" job for archeologist... poking around at prechewed Yucca...

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 13, 2009:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, sarahonweb.

sarahonweb on March 13, 2009:

This is interesting!!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 12, 2009:

Thanks for your comments about Asia, bill.  Yes, there sure are cultural differences, and hair or no hair on legs is one of them, for both men and women in different parts of the world.

I'm kind of glad you asked the question about girls swallowing.  In my research on spitting, this question came up over and over again, exactly as you presented it, as a reply to the question, "Why do guys spit?"  I might have to do some research on that exchange.

Thanks, too, for the compliments.

bill komissaroff from Portland O on March 12, 2009:

Why don't girls swallow?

Just kidding. I was in Southeast Asia recently and was amazed how much spitting there was. It was kinda gross, but eventually realize it is just a cultural difference. They were probably grossed out by my hairy legs when I was wearing shorts.

Very well written and informative hub. Thanks!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 10, 2009:

Hi Michelle! Thanks for sharing your story. I've never had a date who spat, but if I had, I would have done the same as you.

I found the "spitting confessions" in these comments interesting, in that the guys who confessed were sure to say that at some point they stopped the practice. I'm guessing the stopping was a good indicator of maturity. Tsk tsk, such a shame that a cutie would undo his appeal in a spit second!

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