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[span-yuh l] /ˈspæn yəl/
one of any of several breeds of small or medium-sized dogs, usually having a long, silky coat and long, drooping ears.
a submissive, fawning, or cringing person.
Origin of spaniel
1350-1400; Middle English spaynel < Old French espaignol Spanish (dog), derivative of Espaigne Spain
Related forms
spaniellike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spaniel
Historical Examples
  • As one of his friends said of him, he was “either a lion or a spaniel.”

    Mary Wollstonecraft Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • Eighty miles is too far even for a spaniel to find its way back!

    The Widow's Dog Mary Russell Mitford
  • The spaniel and pug (p. 182) are most liable to bronchocele.

  • He is not a spaniel that you can beat, and then whistle back again.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • And going abruptly to the bell, he trod on his spaniel's ear.

    The Country House John Galsworthy
  • At these words the spaniel John rose from his corner and advanced to the middle of the floor.

    The Country House John Galsworthy
  • The spaniel John, seeing what lay before him, rolled over on his back.

    The Country House John Galsworthy
  • She was indeed like a spaniel dog who sees her master coming.

    Fraternity John Galsworthy
  • "I did," said Flamby quickly and continuing to caress the spaniel.

  • The man spoke to the mastiff, who at once flew at the spaniel, and shook him thoroughly.

    Minnie's Pet Dog Madeline Leslie
British Dictionary definitions for spaniel


any of several breeds of gundog with long drooping ears, a silky coat, and formerly a docked tail See clumber spaniel, cocker spaniel, field spaniel, springer spaniel, Sussex spaniel, water spaniel
either of two toy breeds of spaniel See King Charles spaniel
an obsequiously devoted person
Word Origin
C14: from Old French espaigneul Spanish (dog), from Old Provençal espanhol, ultimately from Latin Hispāniolus Spanish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for spaniel

13c., as a surname meaning "Spaniard;" as a name for a breed of dog of Spanish origin, late 14c., from Old French espagneul, literally "Spanish (dog)," from Vulgar Latin *Hispaniolus "of Spain," diminutive of Latin Hispanus "Spanish, Hispanic" (see Spaniard).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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