- 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 spinsterhood
Miss Priest was no "spin" lingering on in spinsterhood against her will.Camps, Quarters and Casual Places
Or do you look forward to spinsterhood in a cottage with a canary?Scarlet and Hyssop
E. F. Benson
There was no doubt his friendship had saved her from the worst perils of spinsterhood.The Lure of Old London
She told me once that she was confident my nose was the cause of my spinsterhood.Vacation with the Tucker Twins
And later on, when she came to be boss, she still kept to spinsterhood.A Master of Fortune
- 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 spinsterhood
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]