- Disparaging and Offensive. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying.
- Chiefly Law. a woman who has never married.
- a woman whose occupation is spinning.
Origin of spinster
Examples from the Web for spinster
Ass-kicking, bad guy-killing Carter is just a future spinster.Marvel’s ‘Agent Carter’ Stomps on the Patriarchy
January 7, 2015
Deep they needed to be, because the Nazis could take offense quicker than a prudish Victorian spinster.Did Hollywood Collaborate With Hitler? A New Book Makes Bold Claims.
September 9, 2013
Susan, a spinster who has never been kissed, has named me as the man she wants to end this unfortunate situation with.How Susan Boyle Won My Heart
April 16, 2009
It would have pleased Richard best to have had her remain a spinster.Mistress Wilding
“You can deal with the maid betwixt you two,” pursued the spinster.Clare Avery
Emily Sarah Holt
Her own idea was that, if she lived long enough, she would become a spinster.All Roads Lead to Calvary
Jerome K. Jerome
Spinner and spinster are the only pair of such words, which still survive.English Past and Present
Richard Chevenix Trench
My quaint New England spinster is gone and with her all the point of my playlet.Jane Journeys On
Ruth Comfort Mitchell
- an unmarried woman regarded as being beyond the age of marriage
- law (in legal documents) a woman who has never marriedCompare feme sole
- (formerly) a woman who spins thread for her living
Word Origin and History for spinster
mid-14c., "female spinner of thread," from Middle English spinnen (see spin) + -stere, feminine suffix. Spinning commonly done by unmarried women, hence the word came to denote "an unmarried woman" in legal documents from 1600s to early 1900s, and by 1719 was being used generically for "woman still unmarried and beyond the usual age for it."
Spinster, a terme, or an addition in our Common Law, onely added in Obligations, Euidences, and Writings, vnto maids vnmarried. [John Minsheu, "Ductor in Linguas," 1617]