verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to wind.
to unwind.


Origin of spool

1275–1325; Middle English spole < Middle Dutch spoele or Middle Low German spōle; cognate with German Spule
Related formsspool·er, nounspool·like, adjectiveun·spool, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spool

Contemporary Examples of spool

Historical Examples of spool

  • Quickly he passed the spool around it and made a knot, then he pushed the spool itself into the mud and turned.

    The Flying Stingaree

    Harold Leland Goodwin

  • This spool of cotton is short fifty yards: mark it two hundred.

  • The scissors fell from her lap, and her spool trundled off across the porch.

    The Bondboy

    George W. (George Washington) Ogden

  • The big car purred again joyously, and the roadway slipped behind like a ribbon running over a spool.

  • The spool fits fairly tight upon the end of the core, and when in position rests against an annular shoulder in the recess.

British Dictionary definitions for spool



a device around which magnetic tape, film, cotton, etc, can be automatically wound, with plates at top and bottom to prevent it from slipping off
anything round which other materials, esp thread, are wound


(sometimes foll by up) to wind or be wound onto a spool or reel

Word Origin for spool

C14: of Germanic origin; compare Old High German spuolo, Middle Dutch spoele
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 spool

early 14c., from Old North French spole, espole "a spool" (13c.), from Middle Dutch spoele "a spool," from Proto-Germanic *spolon (cf. Norwegian and Swedish spole, Old High German spuola, German Spule), from PIE root *spel- "to cleave, split" (see spoil).


c.1600, from spool (n.). Related: Spooled; spooling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for spool



To store data that is sent to a device, such as a printer, in a buffer that the device reads. This procedure allows the program that sent the data to the device to resume its normal operation without waiting for the device to process the data.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.