Spitting or expectoration is the act of forcibly ejecting saliva or other substances from the mouth. It is presently considered rude and a social taboo in many parts of the world including the West, while in some such as China it is considered more acceptable. It is possible to transmit infectious diseases in this way.
Social attitudes towards spitting have changed greatly in Western Europe since the Middle Ages. Then, frequent spitting was part of everyday life, and at all levels of society it was thought ill-mannered to suck back saliva to avoid spitting. By the early 1700s, spitting had become seen as something which should be concealed, and by 1859 many viewed the spitting on the floor or street as vulgar, especially in mixed company. Spittoons were used openly during the nineteenth century to provide an acceptable outlet for spitters. Spittoons became far less common after the influenza epidemic of 1918, and their use has since virtually disappeared, though each justice of the Supreme Court of the United States continues to be provided with a personal cuspidor.
There are some places where spitting is a competitive sport, with or without a projectile in the mouth. For example, there is a Guinness World Record for cherry pit spitting and cricket spitting, and there are world championships in Kudu dung spitting.
In general, gleeting occurs when an accumulation of saliva in the submandibular gland is propelled out in a stream when the gland is compressed by the tongue. The stream of saliva is released in the general direction of the front of the mouth. If the mouth is open the jet may project several feet. Gleeting is more likely when the salivary gland has been recently stimulated, but even a residual amount of saliva in the gland may be released by gleeting.
Gleeting may occur spontaneously due to accidental tongue pressure on the sublingual gland while talking, eating, yawning, or cleaning the teeth. Gleeting can also be induced, for instance, by pressing the underside of the tongue against the palate, then pushing the tongue forward while simultaneously closing the lower jaw and moving it slightly forward; or by yawning deeply and pressing the tongue against the palate. Practice is usually required to induce gleeting consistently, and induction is more likely to be successful under conditions of salivary stimulation.
Redirecting to Spitting