[ spin-ster ]
See synonyms for spinster on Thesaurus.com
  1. Disparaging and Offensive. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying.

  2. Chiefly Law. a woman who has never married.

  1. a woman whose occupation is spinning.

Origin of spinster

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

usage note For spinster

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.

Other words from spinster

  • spin·ster·hood, noun
  • spin·ster·ish, adjective
  • spin·ster·ish·ly, adverb
  • spin·ster·like, adjective

Words Nearby spinster

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use spinster in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for spinster


/ (ˈspɪnstə) /

  1. an unmarried woman regarded as being beyond the age of marriage

  2. law (in legal documents) a woman who has never married: Compare feme sole

  1. (formerly) a woman who spins thread for her living

Origin of spinster

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

Derived forms of spinster

  • spinsterhood, noun
  • spinsterish, adjective

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