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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for spindle

lance, rod, stem, pole, axle, pivot, axis, arbor, shaft, pin, stalk, rachis, mandrel, baluster

Examples from the Web for spindle

Contemporary Examples of spindle

Historical Examples of spindle

  • Fusus means a spindle; so called from the spindle-shaped stem.

  • From these ends is extended the spindle of Necessity, on which all the revolutions turn.

  • This is pierced by the spindle, which is driven home through the centre of the eighth.

  • Above the spindle we began to see sailfish jumping everywhere.

  • It is much easier to turn the latch of a door with the knob than with the spindle when the knob is off.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

British Dictionary definitions for 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 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

spindle in Medicine




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.

spindle in Science



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.