Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun spin·dle \ˈspin-dəl\

Simple Definition of spindle

  • : a thin rod or stick with pointed ends that is used in making yarn

  • : the long, thin pin on a spinning wheel that is used to make thread

  • : something shaped like a long, thin rod; especially : a long, thin part of a machine which turns around something or around which something turns

Full Definition of spindle

  1. 1a :  a round stick with tapered ends used to form and twist the yarn in hand spinningb :  the long slender pin by which the thread is twisted in a spinning wheelc :  any of various rods or pins holding a bobbin in a textile machine (as a spinning frame)d :  the pin in a loom shuttlee :  a device usually consisting of a long upright pin in a base on which papers can be stuck for filing —called also spindle file

  2. 2 :  something shaped like a spindle: asa :  a spindle-shaped network of chiefly microtubular fibers along which the chromosomes are distributed during mitosis and meiosisb :  muscle spindle

  3. 3a :  the bar or shaft usually of square section that carries the knobs and actuates the latch or bolt of a lockb (1) :  a turned often decorative piece (as in a baluster) (2) :  newelc (1) :  a revolving piece especially when thinner than a shaft (2) :  a horizontal or vertical axle revolving on pin or pivot endsd :  the part of an axle on which a vehicle wheel turns

Origin of spindle

Middle English spindel, from Old English spinel; akin to Old English spinnan to spin

First Known Use: 12th century

Other Cell Biology Terms

Rhymes with spindle



verb spin·dle

Definition of spindle

spin·dledspin·dling play \ˈspin(d)-liŋ, ˈspin-dəl-iŋ\

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to shoot or grow into a long slender stalk

  3. 2 :  to grow to stalk or stem rather than to flower or fruit

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 :  to impale, thrust, or perforate on the spike of a spindle file

  6. 2 :  to make or equip (as a piece of furniture) with spindles

spin·dler play \ˈspin(d)-lər, ˈspin-dəl-ər\ noun


First Known Use of spindle


Medical Dictionary


noun spin·dle \ˈspin-dəl\

Medical Definition of spindle

  1. 1:  something shaped like a round stick or pin with tapered ends: asa:  a network of chiefly microtubular fibers along which the chromosomes are distributed during mitosis and meiosisb:  muscle spindle

  2. 2:  sleep spindle

Learn More about spindle

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up spindle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

196.5 pounds 2.2 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.