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[spin] /spɪn/
verb (used with object), spun or (Archaic) span, spun, spinning.
to make (yarn) by drawing out, twisting, and winding fibers:
Pioneer women spun yarn on spinning wheels.
to form (the fibers of any material) into thread or yarn:
The machine spins nylon thread.
(of spiders, silkworms, etc.) to produce (a thread, cobweb, gossamer, silk, etc.) by extruding from the body a long, slender filament of a natural viscous matter that hardens in the air.
to cause to turn around rapidly, as on an axis; twirl; whirl:
to spin a coin on a table.
Informal. to play (phonograph records):
a job spinning records on a radio show.
Metalworking. to shape (sheet metal) into a hollow, rounded form by pressure from a tool while rotating the metal on a lathe or wheel.
to produce, fabricate, or evolve in a manner suggestive of spinning thread:
to spin a tale of sailing ships and bygone days.
Rocketry. to cause intentionally (a rocket or guided missile) to undergo a roll.
to draw out, protract, or prolong (often followed by out):
He spun the project out for over three years.
British. to flunk a student in an examination or a term's work.
Slang. to cause to have a particular bias; influence in a certain direction:
His assignment was to spin the reporters after the president's speech.
verb (used without object), spun or (Archaic) span, spun, spinning.
to revolve or rotate rapidly, as the earth or a top.
to produce a thread from the body, as spiders or silkworms.
to produce yarn or thread by spinning.
to move, go, run, ride, or travel rapidly.
to have a sensation of whirling; reel:
My head began to spin and I fainted.
to fish with a spinning or revolving bait.
the act of causing a spinning or whirling motion.
a spinning motion given to a ball, wheel, axle, or other object.
a downward movement or trend, especially one that is sudden, alarming, etc.:
Steel prices went into a spin.
a rapid run, ride, drive, or the like, as for exercise or enjoyment:
They went for a spin in the car.
Slang. a particular viewpoint or bias, especially in the media; slant:
They tried to put a favorable spin on the news coverage of the controversial speech.
Also called tailspin, tail spin. Aeronautics. a maneuver in which an airplane descends in a vertical direction along a helical path of large pitch and small radius at an angle of attack greater than the critical angle, dangerous when not done intentionally or under control.
  1. the act of intentionally causing a rocket or guided missile to undergo a roll.
  2. a roll so caused.
Also called spin angular momentum. Physics. the intrinsic angular momentum characterizing each kind of elementary particle, having one of the values 0, 1/2, 1/3, … when measured in units of Planck's constant divided by 2π.
Australian. a run of luck; fate.
Verb phrases
spin off,
  1. to create something new, as a company or assets, without detracting from or affecting the relative size or stability of the original:
    After the acquisition, the company was required to spin off about a third of its assets.
  2. to derive from or base on something done previously:
    They took the character of the maid and spun off another TV series.
spin one's wheels. wheel (def 27).
spin out, (of an automobile) to undergo a spinout.
Origin of spin
before 900; Middle English spinnen to spin yarn, Old English spinnan; cognate with Dutch, German spinnen, Old Norse spinna, Gothic spinnan
Related forms
spinnability, noun
spinnable, adjective
outspin, verb (used with object), outspun, outspinning.
unspinnable, adjective
7. develop, narrate, relate. 9. extend, lengthen. 12. gyrate. See turn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for spin


verb spins, spinning, spun
to rotate or cause to rotate rapidly, as on an axis
  1. to draw out and twist (natural fibres, as of silk or cotton) into a long continuous thread
  2. to make such a thread or filament from (synthetic resins, etc), usually by forcing through a nozzle
(of spiders, silkworms, etc) to form (webs, cocoons, etc) from a silky fibre exuded from the body
(transitive) to shape (metal) into a rounded form on a lathe
(transitive) (informal) to tell (a tale, story, etc) by drawing it out at great length (esp in the phrase spin a yarn)
to bowl, pitch, hit, or kick (a ball) so that it rotates in the air and changes direction or speed on bouncing, or (of a ball) to be projected in this way
(intransitive) (of wheels) to revolve rapidly without causing propulsion
to cause (an aircraft) to dive in a spiral descent or (of an aircraft) to dive in a spiral descent
(intransitive) foll by along. to drive or travel swiftly
(transitive) Also spin-dry. to rotate (clothes) in a washing machine in order to extract surplus water
(intransitive) to reel or grow dizzy, as from turning around: my head is spinning
(intransitive) to fish by drawing a revolving lure through the water
(intransitive) (informal) to present news or information in a way that creates a favourable impression
a swift rotating motion; instance of spinning
  1. the intrinsic angular momentum of an elementary particle or atomic nucleus, as distinguished from any angular momentum resulting from its motion
  2. a quantum number determining values of this angular momentum in units of the Dirac constant, having integral or half-integral values S, s
a condition of loss of control of an aircraft or an intentional flight manoeuvre in which the aircraft performs a continuous spiral descent because the angle of maximum lift is less than the angle of incidence
a spinning motion imparted to a ball, etc
(in skating) any of various movements involving spinning rapidly on the spot
(informal) a short or fast drive, ride, etc, esp in a car, for pleasure
(informal, mainly Brit) flat spin, a state of agitation or confusion
(Austral & NZ, informal) a period of time or an experience; chance or luck; fortune: a bad spin
(commerce, informal) a sudden downward trend in prices, values, etc
(informal) the practice of presenting news or information in a way that creates a favourable impression
(informal) on the spin, one after another: they have lost two finals on the spin
See also spin off, spin out
Word Origin
Old English spinnan; related to Old Norse spinna, Old High German spinnan to spin, Lithuanian pinu to braid
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 spin

Old English spinnan "draw out and twist fibers into thread," from Proto-Germanic *spenwanan (cf. Old Norse and Old Frisian spinna, Danish spinde, Dutch spinnen, Old High German spinnan, German spinnen, Gothic spinnan), from PIE *(s)pen- "stretch" (cf. Armenian henum "I weave;" Greek patos "garment, literally "that which is spun;" Lithuanian pinu "I plait, braid," spandau "I spin;" Middle Welsh cy-ffiniden "spider;" see span (v.)).

Sense of "to cause to turn rapidly" is from 1610s; meaning "revolve, turn around rapidly" first recorded 1660s. Meaning "attempt to influence reporters' minds after an event has taken place but before they have written about it" seems to have risen to popularity in the 1984 U.S. presidential campaign; e.g. spin doctor, first attested 1984. Spinning wheel is attested from c.1400; spinning-jenny is from 1783 (see jenny); invented by James Hargreaves c.1764-7, patented 1770.


"fairly rapid ride," 1856, from spin (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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spin in Science
  1. The intrinsic angular momentum of a rigid body or particle, especially a subatomic particle. Also called spin angular momentum.

  2. The total angular momentum of a physical system, such as an electron orbital or an atomic nucleus.

  3. A quantum number expressing spin angular momentum; the actual angular momentum is a quantum number multiplied by Dirac's constant. Fermions have spin values that are integer multiples of 1/2 , while bosons have spin values that are integer multiples of 1.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for spin



: A distinctive point of view, emphasis, or interpretation; a distinctive character or style: He put a spin on the facts

[1979+; fr the notion of spin on a baseball or pool ball, which gives a deviant rather than a straight track; semantically related to throwing someone a curve]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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spin in Technology

programming, jargon
Equivalent to buzz. More common among C and Unix programmers.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with spin
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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