noun Veterinary Pathology.

a disease of the hock joint of horses in which enlargement occurs because of collected fluids (bog spavin), bony growth (bone spavin), or distention of the veins (blood spavin).
an excrescence or enlargement so formed.

Origin of spavin

1400–50; late Middle English spaveyne < Old French (e)spavain, esparvain swelling < ? Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spavin

Historical Examples of spavin

  • There was not a hitch in a settlement, nor a spavin in your stables, could escape him.

  • "All the coaches are full with the men going down," Spavin said.

    The History of Pendennis

    William Makepeace Thackeray

  • A spavin was apparent in one leg, while on another was a great ringbone.

    The Boys of Old Monmouth

    Everett T. Tomlinson

  • The mule may not be so liable to spavin as the horse, but he has ringbone just the same.

    The Mule

    Harvey Riley

  • They can, however, be relieved by the same process as recommended in spavin.

    The Mule

    Harvey Riley

British Dictionary definitions for spavin



vet science enlargement of the hock of a horse by a bony growth (bony spavin) or fluid accumulation in the joint (bog spavin), usually caused by inflammation or injury, and often resulting in lameness

Word Origin for spavin

C15: from Old French espavin, of unknown origin
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 spavin

disease of the hock joint of a horse, early 15c., from Middle French espavain, perhaps from Frankish *sparwan "sparrow" (see sparrow), so called perhaps from comparison of the bird's awkward gait to that of a horse affected with spavin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper