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Spittoon, England, 1660-1760

Spitting was a common and socially acceptable habit during the 1600s and 1700s. Spittoons were used as containers for spit and could be found inside many public places, such as inns and pubs, as well as private homes. From the late 1800s, the practice was discouraged as it was realised that spit contained germs that could spread diseases including tuberculosis, one of the biggest killers of the time.

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Glossary: hygiene

The science of health and how to maintain it. A condition or practice which promotes good health. The definition varies widely and differs across cultures.

Glossary: spitting

The act of ejecting saliva from the mouth.

Glossary: tuberculosis

An infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium first identified by Robert Koch in 1882. The disease usually affects the lungs first, and is accompanied by a chronic cough.

Glossary: spittoon

Large containers serving as places to spit. Associated with chewing tobacco.