See more synonyms for spur on Thesaurus.com
  1. a U-shaped device that slips over and straps to the heel of a boot and has a blunt, pointed, or roweled projection at the back for use by a mounted rider to urge a horse forward.
  2. anything that goads, impels, or urges, as to action, speed, or achievement.
  3. climbing iron.
  4. Ornithology. a stiff, usually sharp, horny process on the leg of various birds, especially the domestic rooster, or on the bend of the wing, as in jacanas and screamers.
  5. Pathology. a bony projection or exostosis.
  6. a sharp piercing or cutting instrument fastened to the leg of a gamecock in cockfighting; gaff.
  7. Physical Geography. a ridge or line of elevation projecting from or subordinate to the main body of a mountain or mountain range.
  8. something that projects and resembles or suggests a gaff; sharp projection.
  9. a short or stunted branch or shoot, as of a tree.
  10. Typography. a short, seriflike projection from the bottom of the short vertical stroke in the capital G in some fonts.
  11. wing dam.
  12. Botany.
    1. a slender, usually hollow, projection from some part of a flower, as from the calyx of the larkspur or the corolla of the violet.
    2. Also called spur shoot.a short shoot bearing flowers, as in fruit trees.
  13. Architecture.
    1. a short wooden brace, usually temporary, for strengthening a post or some other part.
    2. any offset from a wall, as a buttress.
    3. griffe2.
  14. Ceramics. a triangular support of refractory clay for an object being fired.
  15. Railroads. spur track.
verb (used with object), spurred, spur·ring.
  1. to prick with or as if with a spur or spurs; incite or urge on: The rider spurred his mount ruthlessly. Appreciation spurs ambition.
  2. to strike or wound with the spur, as a gamecock.
  3. to furnish with spurs or a spur.
verb (used without object), spurred, spur·ring.
  1. to goad or urge one's horse with spurs or a spur; ride quickly.
  2. to proceed hurriedly; press forward: We spurred onward through the night.
  1. on the spur of the moment, without deliberation; impulsively; suddenly: We headed for the beach on the spur of the moment.
  2. win one's spurs, to achieve distinction or success for the first time; prove one's ability or worth: Our team hasn't won its spurs yet.

Origin of spur

before 900; (noun) Middle English spure, Old English spura; cognate with Old High German sporo, Old Norse spori spur; akin to spurn; (v.) Middle English spuren, derivative of the noun
Related formsspur·less, adjectivespur·like, adjectivespur·rer, noun

Synonyms for spur

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Antonyms for spur


noun Papermaking.
  1. a batch of newly made rag-paper sheets.

Origin of spur

First recorded in 1880–85; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for spur

Contemporary Examples of spur

Historical Examples of spur

  • How can you think of such funny things on the spur of the moment?

  • You gents feed your hosses the spur and leave the thinkin' to me.

  • Yet what can I say, for all men know that your valor needs the curb and not the spur.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • He struck the rivet such a blow that he snapped one shank of his spur short off.

  • David Macy's house stood on the spur of a breezy upland at the end of a road.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for spur


  1. a pointed device or sharp spiked wheel fixed to the heel of a rider's boot to enable him to urge his horse on
  2. anything serving to urge or encouragethe increase in salary was a spur to their production
  3. a sharp horny projection from the leg just above the claws in male birds, such as the domestic cock
  4. a pointed process in any of various animals; calcar
  5. a tubular extension at the base of the corolla in flowers such as larkspur
  6. a short or stunted branch of a tree
  7. a ridge projecting laterally from a mountain or mountain range
  8. a wooden prop or a masonry reinforcing pier
  9. another name for groyne
  10. Also called: spur track a railway branch line or siding
  11. a short side road leading off a main roada motorway spur
  12. a sharp cutting instrument attached to the leg of a gamecock
  13. on the spur of the moment on impulse
  14. win one's spurs
    1. historyto earn knighthood
    2. to prove one's ability; gain distinction
verb spurs, spurring or spurred
  1. (tr) to goad or urge with or as if with spurs
  2. (intr) to go or ride quickly; press on
  3. (tr) to injure or strike with a spur
  4. (tr) to provide with a spur or spurs

Word Origin for spur

Old English spura; related to Old Norse spori, Old High German sporo
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 spur

Old English spura, spora (related to spurnan "to kick," see spurn), from Proto-Germanic *spuron (cf. Old Norse spori, Middle Dutch spore, Dutch spoor, Old High German sporo, German Sporn "spur"), from PIE *spere- "ankle" (see spurn).

Generalized sense of "anything that urges on, stimulus," is from late 14c. Meaning "a ridge projecting off a mountain mass" is recorded from 1650s. "Widely extended senses ... are characteristic of a horsey race." [Weekley] Expression on the spur of the moment (1801) preserves archaic phrase on the spur "in great haste" (1520s). To win one's spurs is to gain knighthood by some valorous act, gilded spurs being the distinctive mark of a knight.


c.1200, from spur (n.). Related: Spurred; spurring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

spur in Medicine


  1. A spine or projection from a bone.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

spur in Science


  1. A small ridge that projects sharply from the side of a larger hill or mountain.
  2. A projection from a bone, as on the heel of the foot.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with spur


In addition to the idiom beginning with spur

  • spur on

also see:

  • on the spur of the moment
  • win one's spurs
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.