dead spindle

noun Metalworking.

See under spindle(def 6).




a rounded rod, usually of wood, tapering toward each end, used in hand-spinning to twist into thread the fibers drawn from the mass on the distaff, and on which the thread is wound as it is spun.
the rod on a spinning wheel by which the thread is twisted and on which it is wound.
one of the rods of a spinning machine that bear the bobbins on which the spun thread is wound.
any rod or pin suggestive of a spindle used in spinning, as one that turns around or on which something turns; an axle, axis, or shaft.
a vertical shaft that serves to center a phonograph record on a turntable.
either of two shafts or arbors that support the work on a lathe, one (live spindle) on the headstock, rotating with and imparting motion to the work, the other (dead spindle) on the tailstock, motionless.
a small axis, arbor, or mandrel.
an iron rod or the like, usually with a ball or cage at the top, fixed to a rock, sunken reef, etc., to serve as a guide in navigation.
a measure of yarn, containing, for cotton, 15,120 yards (13,825 meters), and for linen, 14,400 yards (13,267 meters).
a hydrometer.
Cell Biology. a spindle-shaped structure, composed of microtubules, that forms near the cell nucleus during mitosis or meiosis and, as it divides, draws the chromosomes to opposite poles of the cell.
a short, turned or circular ornament, as in a baluster or stair rail.
Eastern New England. a tassel on an ear of corn.
Chiefly New Jersey and Delaware Valley. dragonfly.


verb (used with object), spin·dled, spin·dling.

to give the form of a spindle to.
to provide or equip with a spindle or spindles.
to impale (a card or paper) on a spindle, as for sorting purposes.

verb (used without object), spin·dled, spin·dling.

to shoot up, or grow, into a long, slender stalk or stem, as a plant.
to grow tall and slender, often disproportionately so.

Origin of spindle

before 900; Middle English spindel (noun), Old English spin(e)l; see spin, -le; cognate with German Spindel
Related formsspin·dle·like, adjectivemul·ti·spin·dled, adjective

Regional variation note

15. See dragonfly. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for dead spindle



a rod or stick that has a notch in the top, used to draw out natural fibres for spinning into thread, and a long narrow body around which the thread is wound when spun
one of the thin rods or pins bearing bobbins upon which spun thread is wound in a spinning wheel or machine
any of various parts in the form of a rod, esp a rotating rod that acts as an axle, mandrel, or arbor
a piece of wood that has been turned, such as a baluster or table leg
a small square metal shaft that passes through the lock of a door and to which the door knobs or handles are fixed
a measure of length of yarn equal to 18 hanks (15 120 yards) for cotton or 14 400 yards for linen
biology a spindle-shaped structure formed by microtubules during mitosis or meiosis which draws the duplicated chromosomes apart as the cell divides
a less common name for a hydrometer
a tall pole with a marker at the top, fixed to an underwater obstruction as an aid to navigation
a device consisting of a sharp upright spike on a pedestal on which bills, order forms, etc, are impaled
short for spindle tree


(tr) to form into a spindle or equip with spindles
(intr) rare (of a plant, stem, shoot, etc) to grow rapidly and become elongated and thin

Word Origin for spindle

Old English spinel; related to spinnan to spin, Old Saxon spinnila spindle, Old High German spinnala
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 dead spindle



Old English spinel, properly "an instrument for spinning," from stem of spinnan (see spin (v.)), with intrusive -d-. Related to Old Saxon spinnila, Old Frisian spindel, Old High German spinnila, German Spindel. As a type of something slender, it is attested from 1570s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for dead spindle




A fusiform structure, usually composed of microtubules.
Mitotic spindle.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for dead spindle



A network of protein fibers that forms in the cytoplasm of a cell during cell division. The spindle grows forth from the centrosomes and attaches to the chromosomes after the latter have been duplicated, and the nuclear membrane dissolves. Once attached, the spindle fibers contract, pulling the duplicate chromosomes apart to opposite poles of the dividing cell. See more at meiosis mitosis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.