What is Gleeking?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

In the world of competitive spitting, gleeking would be considered a stealth fighter. It's actually an acquired skill in which the gleeker rolls back his or her tongue, then compresses a sub-mandibular salivary gland until a stream of saliva is released. With enough practice and salivary stimulation, a gleeker can project an arc of watery saliva several feet in the air. The point is to find a suitable target and silently dowse it with a short burst of spit.

Some people unintentionally gleek when they yawn.
Some people unintentionally gleek when they yawn.

Many people experience unintentional bouts of gleeking whenever they yawn deeply or consume hard candy or other tart or spicy foods that stimulate the salivary glands. Ordinarily, the tongue protects others from the effects, but sometimes the tongue is pulled out of position and the saliva escapes through a duct in the gland. This is a natural process triggered by mental or physical stimulation of the salivary glands just before eating or drinking.

Shakespeare used the word "gleeking," but most likely to mean a joke.
Shakespeare used the word "gleeking," but most likely to mean a joke.

While the process is not limited by age, its appeal as a deliberate act seems to be limited to preadolescent and adolescent children. The fact that some people can gleek seemingly at will while others cannot only adds to its appeal as a rude but generally harmless act. A talented gleeker will wait until a target has come into range and then silently dowse him or her with a spray of watery saliva. The victim may not even be aware he or she has been attacked, since gleeking is such a silent act.

Some people may have heard other terms for the act, such as gleeping, glanding, or geezing. Some sources will also render the term as gleaking. The word itself can be traced back to the Middle Ages, but not in relation to the act of spitting. Shakespeare used it as an insult in several plays, but etymologists suggest the word actually meant to joke or brag, not expectorate.

Although gleeking is not always listed as a punishable offense in a student's book of conduct, it would most likely be considered an assault similar to actual spitting. Demonstrating the skill to other classmates might be considered in poor taste, but it should never be performed deliberately on any student or faculty member. It is not considered harmful to the gleeker, but it could lead to general soreness and injury to the tongue if performed over a long period of time.

A gleeker rolls back his or her tongue to help the release of saliva.
A gleeker rolls back his or her tongue to help the release of saliva.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


I can do this on command multiple times in a row, and vary the distance it goes. I just curl my tongue towards the roof of my mouth and squeeze it; I don't have to yawn or anything else. I'm glad to finally have a name for it rather than just telling people that "I can spit like a cobra". It's not a very ladylike habit though, so I don't often get to brag about my skill.


@LittleMan: Yes, it does have a less viscous consistency most of the time.

If you have the desire to alter this consistency, I have found it extremely useful to cut small wounds into the gums or mouth roof. blood, in copious amounts, will salad and blend with your general saliva build, leaving you with a thicker gleek. It will also change a gleek from clear-coat to red.


I can gleek on command with the tongue action described. No outside stimulus, no prior charging. As long as I'm not dehydrated I can do this.

Bacteria may not be in the saliva, but if you have any present viruses that leak out bodily fluids, you can assume that the attack is not a harmless attack at all. Have you checked to see if the person you attacked got sick after?

Gleeking is a skill from a protein only some people have, so it's an evolutionary tool. If an animal confronts you, you can spray *venom* in its face. Later the virus will trigger if transmutable to the animal and die. I would be careful. I have other abilities as well. I am able to manipulate my nervous system, make goosebumps at will with no pain; it feels amazing, though. I can also pulse a sensation down and up my spine in burst of energy I can physically feel.


I gleek but when I do, it hits my teeth. What should I do?


My gleeking method is different. What I do is put my tongue to the part of my mouth where the spit comes from and hold it there. Then I yawn and if you do this correctly, you'll feel the pressure build up. After that, jut out your jaw and remove your tongue. If done correctly, a stream of saliva should flow out of your mouth. Hopefully you find this helpful and good luck.


I have been gleeking since middle school and now that I'm almost 30, I still love to do it. My wife thinks it's terrible but because she can't do it, which is somewhat interesting. I have found that my distance and accuracy has improved over the years as would any "athlete". I love showing people who have never seen it and teaching it to people.

Of course, the simple yawn is the best way to get a gleek started, but I found just a sip of carbonated soda allowed to get under the tongue works best. Good luck to all the silent troublemakers out there trying to learn. Happy gleeking!


I gleeked for the first time when I had a tongue ulcer, and when I provoked it, I gleeked.


This started for me "full time"when I turned 42. It started whenever I had a deep yawn and it would squirt out bubbles. Now I just turn my head to the right (or left) and a huge stream comes out. It took me a while to figure out where the stream was coming from but I eventually found it!

I wish my body could do something more interesting than this but this is what I am stuck with!


This is so funny! And so true! As a gleeker myself, I find what you've said absolutely hilarious and absolutely correct.

I always try and explain to my siblings how to do it, but no, jealous (yet also disgusted) as they are, they cannot. It truly is a helpful tool to use against annoying people. Recently, I've decided to use it in the halls of my school against people I don't like. Haha! They'll never know what hit- or should I say 'spit'- them!

Little Man (if you're still reading this): No, it doesn't have the same consistency as normal spit. It's pretty much just like water, except warmer and a tad thicker. I think it's pretty clean (I don't see why people are always so disgusted, I always tell them it's pure), seeing as it comes straight from the salivary glands underneath your tongue and doesn't really get the chance to touch the rest of your mouth. Hope that helps. Thanks for the good laugh! --Sarah D.


Thanks for this article -- I am writing an article on odd habits of teenagers, and came upon gleeking.

So I was looking for a good way to define how to gleek, and this article was just the thing. Thanks so much!


Does gleek spit have the same kind of consistency as normal spit?

I would think that the narrowness of the opening might make a difference in the consistency of the gleek saliva.

Does anybody know the answer to this admittedly weirdo question?


Wow, who knew. Gleeking -- I guess you learn something new everyday.

I wonder, is there some kind of gleek club out there; or a gleeking how to manual, perhaps?

I guess there's a hobby out there for everyone...


Wow. I had never even heard of gleeking! It sounds pretty disgusting, though. I hope my kids don't decide to try this new thing!

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