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[spahyuh r] /spaɪər/
a tall, acutely pointed pyramidal roof or rooflike construction upon a tower, roof, etc.
a similar construction forming the upper part of a steeple.
a tapering, pointed part of something; a tall, sharp-pointed summit, peak, or the like:
the distant spires of the mountains.
the highest point or summit of something:
the spire of a hill; the spire of one's profession.
a sprout or shoot of a plant, as an acrospire of grain or a blade or spear of grass.
verb (used without object), spired, spiring.
to shoot or rise into spirelike form; rise or extend to a height in the manner of a spire.
Origin of spire1
before 1000; Middle English; Old English spīr spike, blade; cognate with Middle Dutch spier, Middle Low German spīr shoot, sprout, sprig, Old Norse spīra stalk
Related forms
spireless, adjective
unspiring, adjective
Can be confused
spire, steeple. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spiring
Historical Examples
  • The tendency is to slender, spiring tops, while they are narrower below.

    The Maine Woods

    Henry David Thoreau
  • Round and up, and ever up it went, narrowing and spiring to the zenith.

    Lore of Proserpine Maurice Hewlett
  • Lovely starry night, the tall, spiring tree-tops relieved in jet black against the sky.

  • The San Lorenzo fort was now a spiring red flame of fire—a beacon to the ships at sea.

    On the Spanish Main John Masefield
  • It also chanced that I had stopped in a spot where the spiring trunks rose naked of boughs to a considerable height.

    A Maid of the Kentucky Hills Edwin Carlile Litsey
  • Here and there a monolith of stone stood up out from the main cliff, spiring for a hundred feet or more.

    Rimrock Trail J. Allan Dunn
British Dictionary definitions for spiring


Also called steeple. a tall structure that tapers upwards to a point, esp one on a tower or roof or one that forms the upper part of a steeple
a slender tapering shoot or stem, such as a blade of grass
the apical part of any tapering formation; summit
(intransitive) to assume the shape of a spire; point up
(transitive) to furnish with a spire or spires
Derived Forms
spiry, adjective
Word Origin
Old English spīr blade; related to Old Norse spīra stalk, Middle Low German spīr shoot, Latin spīna thorn


any of the coils or turns in a spiral structure
the apical part of a spiral shell
Derived Forms
spiriferous (spaɪəˈrɪfərəs) adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin spīra a coil, from Greek speira
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 spiring



Old English spir "sprout, shoot, stalk of grass," from Proto-Germanic *spiraz (cf. Old Norse spira "a stalk, slender tree," Middle Low German spir "a small point or top"), from PIE *spei- "sharp point" (see spike (n.1)). Meaning "tapering top of a tower or steeple" first recorded 1590s (a sense attested in Middle Low German since late 14c. and also found in the Scandinavian cognates). The verb is first recorded early 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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