[ spin-ster ]
/ ˈspɪn stər /


Disparaging and Offensive. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying.
Chiefly Law. a woman who has never married.
a woman whose occupation is spinning.

Origin of spinster

1325–75; Middle English spinnestere a woman who spins. See spin, -ster

Related forms

spin·ster·hood, nounspin·ster·ish, adjectivespin·ster·ish·ly, adverbspin·ster·like, adjective

Usage note

The meaning “a woman beyond the usual marriageable age” is used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting. It implies negative qualities such as being fussy or undesirable. See also old maid.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spinster

British Dictionary definitions for spinster


/ (ˈspɪnstə) /


an unmarried woman regarded as being beyond the age of marriage
law (in legal documents) a woman who has never marriedCompare feme sole
(formerly) a woman who spins thread for her living

Derived Forms

spinsterhood, nounspinsterish, adjective

Word Origin for spinster

C14 (in the sense: a person, esp a woman, whose occupation is spinning; C17: a woman still unmarried): from spin + -ster
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