• synonyms


[span-yuh l]
  1. one of any of several breeds of small or medium-sized dogs, usually having a long, silky coat and long, drooping ears.
  2. a submissive, fawning, or cringing person.
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Origin of spaniel

1350–1400; Middle English spaynel < Old French espaignol Spanish (dog), derivative of Espaigne Spain
Related formsspan·iel·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for spaniel

Historical Examples of spaniel

  • As one of his friends said of him, he was “either a lion or a spaniel.”

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Elizabeth Robins Pennell

  • Eighty miles is too far even for a spaniel to find its way back!

    The Widow's Dog

    Mary Russell Mitford

  • The spaniel and pug (p. 182) are most liable to bronchocele.

  • He is not a spaniel that you can beat, and then whistle back again.

    White Lies

    Charles Reade

  • The spaniel John, seeing what lay before him, rolled over on his back.

    The Country House

    John Galsworthy

British Dictionary definitions for spaniel


  1. any of several breeds of gundog with long drooping ears, a silky coat, and formerly a docked tailSee clumber spaniel, cocker spaniel, field spaniel, springer spaniel, Sussex spaniel, water spaniel
  2. either of two toy breeds of spanielSee King Charles spaniel
  3. an obsequiously devoted person
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Word Origin for spaniel

C14: from Old French espaigneul Spanish (dog), from Old Provençal espanhol, ultimately from Latin Hispāniolus Spanish
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 spaniel


13c., as a surname meaning "Spaniard;" as a name for a breed of dog of Spanish origin, late 14c., from Old French espagneul, literally "Spanish (dog)," from Vulgar Latin *Hispaniolus "of Spain," diminutive of Latin Hispanus "Spanish, Hispanic" (see Spaniard).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper