as if one had been spit out of his (her) mouth

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
32) Nothing (not much, not a pin) to choose between them / As like as two peas (in a pod) / As like smb. as if one had been spit out of his (her) mouth / For all the world like smb., smth. / About and about
(Russian-English dictionary of idioms)

All these phrases, according to the Russian definition, have the same meaning (you see what exactly).
The question is - can one really say "as if I had been spit out of his mouth" ? Is had been spit out misprint ? (it should be had been spat out instead, as far as I know)

Thanks.
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I've never heard this expression in BE, but I agree, I'd expect it to be 'spat'. It may well be an American expression. Perhaps an AE speaker will be along soon . . .

    I've never heard 'Not a pin to choose between them' either. :confused:
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Actually, "spat" only emerges in the 18th century. Before that, the past participle was always "spit" (or sometimes some oddball other forms).

    The phrase you cite here is so archaic that it uses the pre-18th-century past participle. Here are some examples from the OED:
    1602 N. Breton Wonders worth Hearing (1879) 8/1 Twoo girles,..the one as like an Owle, the other as like an Urchin, as if they had beene spitte out of the mouthes of them.1664 C. Cotton Scarronides 106 Hee's e'en as like thee, as th' adst spit him.
    1690 C. Ness Compl. Hist. & Myst. Old & New Test. I. 159 We are of our father the devil,..as like him as if spit out of his mouth.
    By now, the phrase about "having been spit out of someone's mouth" has turned into another phrase - "being the spitting image of someone." We still say that, very commonly. Nobody would understand you if you used the form listed in your idioms dictionary.

    About "had spit": you do see it sometimes, but I would find "had spat" more natural in most cases. But that's not what's going on here - with this phrase we travel back in time to before the word "spat" exists!
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "By now, the phrase about "having been spit out of someone's mouth" has turned into another phrase - "being the spitting image of someone." We still say that, very commonly."


    That's interesting. I'd often wondered . . .
     
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