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common name for members of the aquatic animal phylum PoriferaPorifera
[Lat.,=pore bearer], animal phylum consisting of the organisms commonly called sponges. It is the only phylum of the animal subkingdom Parazoa and represents the least evolutionarily advanced group of the animal kingdom.
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, and for the dried, processed skeletons of certain species used to hold water. Over 4,500 living species are known; they are found throughout the world, especially in shallow temperate waters. All are marine except the members of six freshwater families.

Adult sponges are sessile, attaching themselves to rocks, coral, shells, and other substrates. They show so little movement that until the 18th cent. naturalists considered them plants. Most adults are colonial. Sexual reproduction gives rise to a free-swimming larva, which soon settles on a suitable substrate and develops into the adult form. Asexual reproduction also occurs. The individual sponge is saclike in construction; water is drawn into its central cavity through many tiny holes in the body wall and expelled through a large opening at the top of the body. Hard materials of various kinds, depending on the type of sponge, are imbedded in the body wall, forming a skeleton. A colony consists of a mass of many such individuals.

Solitary sponges and colonies range in diameter from about 1-2 in. to 5 ft (1–150 cm) and vary greatly in shape. Some are branched, some more or less globular, and some are thin encrustations on rocks and pilings. Brilliantly colored sponges are common. Bath sponges are the skeletons of certain colonial sponges. These skeletons are composed of a fibrous meshwork of spongin, a material related to horn, and owe their absorbent properties to the fineness of the mesh.

Sponges have been used to hold liquid since ancient times. The ancient Greeks used them for bathing and scrubbing, and Roman soldiers used them for drinking. Commercial sponges, species of the genera Spongia and Hippospongia, are harvested principally in the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas and off the Florida coast. They are brought up by divers in deep water, or raked in with long-handled forks in shallow water. They are left in water until the living tissue rots away; the skeletons are then cleaned and dried and sometimes bleached. Sponge fishing has declined in recent decades due to the use of synthetic sponges and to a decline in the population of commercially valuable natural sponges. The block-shaped sponges now commonly sold are the synthetic product. Dried natural sponges are light gray or brown and irregular in shape.


(chemical engineering)
Wood shavings coated with iron oxide and used as a catalyst in processes for removing hydrogen sulfide from industrial gases.
(invertebrate zoology)
The common name for members of the phylum Porifera.


1. any multicellular typically marine animal of the phylum Porifera, usually occurring in complex sessile colonies in which the porous body is supported by a fibrous, calcareous, or siliceous skeletal framework
2. a piece of the light porous highly absorbent elastic skeleton of certain sponges, used in bathing, cleaning, etc.
3. any of a number of light porous elastic materials resembling a sponge
4. porous metal produced by electrolysis or by reducing a metal compound without fusion or sintering and capable of absorbing large quantities of gas


A special case of a Unix filter that reads its entire input before writing any output; the canonical example is a sort utility. Unlike most filters, a sponge can conveniently overwrite the input file with the output data stream. If a file system has file versioning (as ITS did and VMS does now) the sponge/filter distinction loses its usefulness, because directing filter output would just write a new version.

See also slurp.
References in periodicals archive ?
This sponge has physical and performance characteristics much closer to gauze sponges plus greater uniformity, less lint and no loose threads.
In most cases these attributes are generally met by woven cotton gauze sponges that have to be acceptable to most surgeons and O.R.
Use a washcloth, gauze sponges or even paper towels to gently scrub a wound and remove any hair, dirt, dried blood or dead tissue.
The report provides value, in millions of US dollars, volume (in units) and average prices (in US dollars) within market segments - Gauzes (Woven Gauzes (Sterile Woven and Non-Sterile Woven Gauzes) and Non-Woven Gauzes (Sterile Non-Woven and Non-Sterile Non-Woven Gauzes)), Sponges (Woven Sponges (Sterile Woven and Non-Sterile Woven Sponges) and Non-Woven Sponges (Sterile Non-Woven and Non-Sterile Non-Woven Sponges)), Bandages (Conforming Bandages (Cotton and Synthetic Conforming Bandages), Non-Adherent Bandages and Adhesive Bandages), Abdominal Pads (Sterile and Non-Sterile Abdominal Pads) and Gauze Sponges (Woven Gauze Sponges (Sterile Woven and Non-Sterile Woven Gauze Sponges) and Non-Woven Gauze Sponges (Sterile Non-Woven and Non-Sterile Non-Woven Gauze Sponges)).
Sterilux[TM] sterile and nonsterile gauze sponges from Hartmann are made from USP Type VII Gauze with a high yarn count and nonraveling folded edges to provide an absorbent, soft, and low-linting product.
The manufacture of gauze sponges requires a complicated, slow moving machine that folds the edges inside the structure to prevent loose yarns from dropping into an open wound.