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  1. a short, close-fitting jacket, frequently trimmed with fur, worn in the 19th century by women and children.
  2. a man's close-fitting jacket, having a collar and lapels and reaching just below the waist, worn in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
  3. an English wig of the 18th century.

Origin of spencer1

1740–50; in defs 1, 2 named after G. J. Spencer (1758–1834), English earl; in def 3 named after Charles Spencer


noun Nautical.
  1. a large gaff sail used abaft a square-rigged foremast or abaft the mainmast of a ship or bark.

Origin of spencer2

First recorded in 1830–40; origin uncertain


noun Military.
  1. a .52 caliber, lever-action repeating rifle and carbine patented in the U.S. in 1860 and used by the Union army and navy in the Civil War.


  1. Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland,1674–1722, British statesman: prime minister 1718–21.
  2. Herbert,1820–1903, English philosopher.
  3. Platt Rogers [plat] /plæt/, 1800–64, U.S. calligrapher and teacher of penmanship.
  4. a town in NW Iowa.
  5. a town in central Massachusetts.
  6. a male given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for spencer


  1. a short fitted coat or jacket
  2. a woman's knitted vest

Word Origin

C18: named after Earl Spencer (1758–1834)


  1. nautical a large loose-footed gaffsail on a square-rigger or barque

Word Origin

C19: perhaps after the surname Spencer


  1. Herbert. 1820–1903, English philosopher, who applied evolutionary theory to the study of society, favouring laissez-faire doctrines
  2. Sir Stanley. 1891–1959, English painter, noted esp for his paintings of Christ in a contemporary English setting
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

Word Origin and History for spencer



type of repeating rifle used in the American Civil War, 1863, named for U.S. gunsmith Christopher Spencer, who, with Luke Wheelock, manufactured them in Boston, Mass. The surname is attested from late 13c. (earlier le Despenser, c.1200), and means "one who dispenses or has charge of provisions in a household." Middle English spence meant "larder, pantry," and is short for Old French despense (French dépense) "expense," from despenser "to distribute" (see dispense). Another form of the word is spender, which also has become a surname.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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