"when they are full, They belch us" (Othello, III.iv.102), or when Ariel describes the "three men of sin" as being "belched up" by the sea (The Tempest, III.iii.57). It must also be the character-note for Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. The more general sense is also found in Shakespeare, where the stomach is not involved. Cloten, talking of Innogen's rebuff, says "the bitterness of it I now belch from my heart" (Cymbeline, III.v.135). Here it means simply "discharge, emit". Similarly, with the adjective, belching. When Pericles (in Pericles, III.i.62) and Nestor (in Troilus and Cressida, V.v.23) talk about the "belching whale" they mean "spouting". We must dismiss any notion of a noisy burp.
David Crystal David Crystal is author, with Ben Crystal, of Shakespeare's Words, published by Penguin