The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Sponge \Sponge\ (sp[u^]nj), n. [OF. esponge, F. ['e]ponge, L.
spongia, Gr. spoggia`, spo`ggos. Cf. Fungus, Spunk.]
[Formerly written also spunge.]
1. (Zool.) Any one of numerous species of Spongiae, or
Porifera. See Illust. and Note under Spongiae.
2. The elastic fibrous skeleton of many species of horny
Spongiae (Keratosa), used for many purposes, especially
the varieties of the genus Spongia. The most valuable
sponges are found in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea,
and on the coasts of Florida and the West Indies.
3. Fig.: One who lives upon others; a pertinacious and
indolent dependent; a parasite; a sponger.
4. Any spongelike substance. Specifically:
(a) Dough before it is kneaded and formed into loaves, and
after it is converted into a light, spongy mass by the
agency of the yeast or leaven.
(b) Iron from the puddling furnace, in a pasty condition.
(c) Iron ore, in masses, reduced but not melted or worked.
5. (Gun.) A mop for cleaning the bore of a cannon after a
discharge. It consists of a cylinder of wood, covered with
sheepskin with the wool on, or cloth with a heavy looped
nap, and having a handle, or staff.
6. (Far.) The extremity, or point, of a horseshoe, answering
to the heel.
Bath sponge, any one of several varieties of coarse
commercial sponges, especially Spongia equina.
Cup sponge, a toilet sponge growing in a cup-shaped form.
Glass sponge. See Glass-sponge, in the Vocabulary.
Glove sponge, a variety of commercial sponge (Spongia
officinalis, variety tubulifera), having very fine
fibers, native of Florida, and the West Indies.
Grass sponge, any one of several varieties of coarse
commercial sponges having the surface irregularly tufted,
as Spongia graminea, and Spongia equina, variety
cerebriformis, of Florida and the West Indies.
Horse sponge, a coarse commercial sponge, especially
Platinum sponge. (Chem.) See under Platinum.
Pyrotechnical sponge, a substance made of mushrooms or
fungi, which are boiled in water, dried, and beaten, then
put in a strong lye prepared with saltpeter, and again
dried in an oven. This makes the black match, or tinder,
brought from Germany.
Sheep's-wool sponge, a fine and durable commercial sponge
(Spongia equina, variety gossypina) found in Florida and
the West Indies. The surface is covered with larger and
smaller tufts, having the oscula between them.
Sponge cake, a kind of sweet cake which is light and
Sponge lead, or Spongy lead (Chem.), metallic lead
brought to a spongy form by reduction of lead salts, or by
compressing finely divided lead; -- used in secondary
batteries and otherwise.
Sponge tree (Bot.), a tropical leguminous tree (Acacia
Farnesiana), with deliciously fragrant flowers, which are
used in perfumery.
Toilet sponge, a very fine and superior variety of
Mediterranean sponge (Spongia officinalis, variety
Mediterranea); -- called also Turkish sponge.
To set a sponge (Cookery), to leaven a small mass of flour,
to be used in leavening a larger quantity.
To throw up the sponge, to give up a contest; to
acknowledge defeat; -- from a custom of the prize ring,
the person employed to sponge a pugilist between rounds
throwing his sponge in the air in token of defeat; -- now,
throw in the towel is more common, and has the same
origin and meaning. [Cant or Slang] "He was too brave a
man to throw up the sponge to fate." --Lowell.
Vegetable sponge. (Bot.) See Loof.
Velvet sponge, a fine, soft commercial sponge (Spongia
equina, variety meandriniformis) found in Florida and the
Vitreous sponge. See Glass-sponge.
Yellow sponge, a common and valuable commercial sponge
(Spongia agaricina, variety corlosia) found in Florida
and the West Indies.