Drooling vs Spitting - Solve This Debate!
May 5, 2018 8:00 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are at an impasse between the definition of drooling versus spitting. What's your vote?

Wife stance:

Drooling is an involuntary action. Such that is often seen in an animal or in a human in childhood, during sleep, numbness, illness, or other impairment where saliva or liquid flows slowly out of the mouth.
Spitting is voluntary. You choose to loosen your lips or force liquid out of your mouth. Choosing to let liquid flow out of your mouth counts as spitting even if it's slow.

Husband stance:

Drooling can be voluntary: Such that letting spit (or other liquid) flow down slowly WITH INTENT is still drooling.
Spitting only involves a voluntary force ejecting saliva (or other liquid) from your mouth at higher speed or distance.
posted by Crystalinne to Grab Bag (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Team husband.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:04 PM on May 5 [18 favorites]

This is a good question!

Personally, I wouldn't call letting saliva dip slowly but deliberately "spitting." I think spitting requires forceful ejection. Drooling is usually involuntary but now that I think about it, I guess it doesn't have to be.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:05 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]

My older brother used to intentionally drool on me (pin me down and let the spittle dangle threatening to touch my face), so I agree with your husband.
posted by muddgirl at 8:05 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]

I’m on Team Husband.

Drooling is anything where gravity is the primary force removing saliva from the mouth, regardless of intent.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:06 PM on May 5 [10 favorites]

Even after you explained this to me on the phone, I am still Team Husband, and you’re my daughter.
posted by The Deej at 8:18 PM on May 5 [64 favorites]

Both can be voluntary or involuntary (eg spitting while talking). I would say the velocity is the defining characteristic.
posted by bluloo at 8:20 PM on May 5 [15 favorites]

team husband here too...

somewhat relatedly- we discovered our son's toddler class teacher was telling them "no spitting" when they blew raspberries. i would not describe that as spitting but sounds like she'd be in your camp on the drooling question.
posted by noloveforned at 8:22 PM on May 5

So if you intentionally built up saliva in the front of your mouth, leaned over the sink with pursed but slightly open lips, and allowed that to fall slowly, you'd call that spitting and your husband would call it drooling? Team wife.

But if you laid your head on a pillow and faced sort of sideways/down with your mouth open to intentionally allow saliva onto the pillow over time, you'd call that spitting and your husband would call it drooling? Team husband.
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:23 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]

Team Husband. And yes, I think gravity vs force is the differentiator.
posted by greermahoney at 8:26 PM on May 5

Team husband as pertains to drooling. Team neither one of you re spitting. Spitting can totally be involuntary. See: Grandpas spitting when they talk.
posted by HotToddy at 8:36 PM on May 5

I'd rather be drooled over than spat at...

Team husband for me, because I've seen kids do this on purpose (trying to gross each other out during mealtimes, for example).
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 8:38 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah spitting can be involuntary, too: "Spitting mad" - so angry that you are involuntarily spitting with how forceful you speak.
posted by muddgirl at 8:43 PM on May 5

Ok ok guys, my theory is that spitting and drooling overlap, and some actions can be both.

Let's say I'm getting my teeth cleaned at the dentists. The dentist takes his horrible tools out of my mouth and tells me to spit. I lean over his weird little dental spittoon and let what's in my mouth flow out without putting any force behind it.

I just spat by drooling. What I did was in the spitting circle of the venn diagram and in the drooling circle.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:46 PM on May 5

Team husband here. This is entirely based on velocity and not intent. Drool == slow leak, spit == fast action.
posted by isauteikisa at 8:58 PM on May 5

It would not have occurred to me to disagree with you just because the idea of voluntarily drooling has never occurred to me. But I guess as per this thread it turns out people do that. So I am forced to side with husband.
posted by bleep at 9:55 PM on May 5

You’re both right, to some extent. Real life is not a logic puzzle, where Socrates states that all men drool and all cows drool but not all men are cows, etc.

Put another way: your brilliant exposition of voluntary drool does not invalidate the rest of her position, even though it does provide a counterexample to the claim that all drool is involuntary.

Put yet another way:
Spouse 1: All A has trait B; all C has trait not B
Spouse 2: Some A is not B, according to my definition of A.

See how you can both be not wrong?
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:00 PM on May 5

I thought I was on your team until I read team husband's position and now I feel bad but I'd feel worse if I lied to you so here we are
posted by masquesoporfavor at 10:07 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]

Voluntary drooling is an abomination of nature... I'm on your side.
posted by HuronBob at 10:14 PM on May 5

Yeah, I have to go with velocity, rather than intention, is the dividing line. And dogs drool and cats spit.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:36 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]

The way I see it, intent here refers to the mouth’s physical intent, not the mind’s conscious intent.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:51 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]

Team husband
posted by smoke at 11:39 PM on May 5

Some cats drool when they are nuzzling. Sometimes a lot. Steve, long departed, would leave a dripping line across anything he rubbed his face on.

Team husband.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:15 AM on May 6

Spitting involves force ejecting the saliva. I do not believe it's possible to spit by accident (in that strictest definition). Therefore, the intention of the act, if not always intent of any motivational force (contempt, anger, etc.) has to be part of it. There is innocuous spitting and there is contemptuous spitting, if I am forced to create categories.

[I suppose there is a category of accidental saliva ejection, which mimics active spitting but occurs involuntarily- while sneezing, for example. But this would never be defined as "spitting," IMO. Someone nearby may get some "spit" on them, should this happen, and they might actually complain that you "spit on them," but it's completely defensible.]

Innocuous spitting follows getting a bug in your mouth, feeling a piece of peanut shell, or something like that. Intention is there (to get the foreign object or bad taste out of your mouth), but not any specific negative attitude or some other motivation.

Contemptuous spitting (because you despise, hate, or otherwise want to show a negative stance vs. the other person or object), is also intentional- but for a very different reason. Because such reasons are so fraught with meaning (especially based on cultural differences), people usually place some degree of care around the moments they choose to spit.

The act of drooling, in its purest form, is involuntary or otherwise uncontrollable (for medical reasons etc.). You may allow saliva to flow in a drooling fashion on purpose, but that's a form of forced drooling, and not pure drooling.

The further you go away from actual intentional spitting, I feel that you must rely on the semantics surrounding the terms used to describe the substance (saliva), further impacted by context. Some people call it saliva, many call it spit, some may call it drool.

I feel that most people call it "spit" vs. "saliva," generically, which seems to confuse the issue according to your construct. In the dentist's chair, if the technician is not on their game, and saliva starts to go down your chin, it's not really drooling... or maybe it is. At that point, many people may say, "Spit dripped onto my chin" because we call it spit, but the action is more aligned to drooling. This is why it gets confusing.

So if is incumbent on you to narrow the need to define things to only instances where transfer has taken place, you must infer most of your parameters from the specific context, supposed intent, and means of exchange.

If your brother is on the floor watching TV, and you lean over him with your mouth open and let that [mouth substance] drip onto him, and he screams, "MOM!! Jimmy drooled all over me!" that is, to me, an accurate usage, since the only other viable term in such a context seems to be "spit," and you clearly did not spit. You most accurately "dripped saliva" onto poor Jimmy; but he, in his righteous anger, is not gonna scream that at Mom.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:25 AM on May 6

You can tell someone not to drool so at least NOT drooling is voluntary.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:37 AM on May 6

Team Husband, with the codicil that voluntary drooling is every bit as offensive as spitting.
posted by flabdablet at 6:50 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]

Spitting involves force ejecting the saliva. I do not believe it's possible to spit by accident (in that strictest definition).

There's a salivary gland under the tongue which, in my experience, is quite capable of occasional highly forceful ejection of an involuntary spritz. All it takes is trying to form an "L" sound at exactly the wrong moment.

"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" can also get a bit involuntarily spitty sometimes.
posted by flabdablet at 6:54 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]

Oh, yes, flabdablet brings into the discussion the specialized spit known to some as the "gleek." Which can also be purposeful or unintentional.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:38 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]

Spitting requires application of force, voluntary or involuntary. #teamhusband
posted by DarlingBri at 7:45 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]

Husband's definition is right, but who the hell would drool voluntarily?

The actor playing the catatonic character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is the only situation I can think of.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:06 AM on May 6

I must be losing my connection to the mefi hive mind here, because team wife seems the obviously correct answer to me; it's all about intentionality, not velocity. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

For example the dentist never tells me "now drool"
posted by ook at 10:30 AM on May 6

Sorry my dear, husband has the win.

How is this even a question?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:38 AM on May 6

Team Husband. I have a young baby who hasn't quite mastered the physical ability to spit, but she has definitely oozed saliva onto me with intention, and I have no idea what I would call it if not drool.
posted by Diagonalize at 6:53 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]

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