sputum

Sputum is the gross stuff that you cough up when you're sick and congested. Sputum is your saliva mixed with mucus from your lungs.

Examining a patient's sputum is one way for a doctor to tell if she might have an infection, rather than just a cold. A yellow or greenish color to the sputum someone coughs up is a sign of infection, while clear sputum usually means all is well. The word sputum shares a root with spew, the Latin verb spuere, "to spit."

Definitions of sputum
  1. noun
    expectorated matter; saliva mixed with discharges from the respiratory passages; in ancient and medieval physiology it was believed to cause sluggishness
    synonyms: phlegm
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    type of:
    mucous secretion, mucus
    protective secretion of the mucus membranes; in the gut it lubricates the passage of food and protects the epithelial cells; in the nose and throat and lungs it can make it difficult for bacteria to penetrate the body through the epithelium
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