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Spitting images: our medical philologist, Jeff Aronson, comments

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 25 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:b5064
  1. Jeffrey K Aronson, University of Oxford, Oxford
  1. jeffrey.aronson{at}

    The Greek word πτύειν (ptuein) meant to spit and πτύαλον (ptualon) saliva. These words came from the same onomatopoeic Indo-European root that gives us spew and puke; spit, spittle, and sputum; spout, sputter, and splutter; spittoon and cuspidor. A ptyalogogue is a substance that induces the flow of saliva, ptyalin …

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