\ˈskān \

Definition of skein 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 or less commonly skean or skeane \ˈskān \ : a loosely coiled length of yarn or thread wound on a reel

2 : something suggesting the twists or coils of a skein : tangle

3 : a flock of wildfowl (such as geese or ducks) in flight


skeined; skeining; skeins

Definition of skein (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to wind into skeins skein yarn

Examples of skein in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Dancing across the top three panels is an undulating horizontal red skein. Sharon Mizota,, "At Blum & Poe, bow down to the ecstatic painting of Mimi Lauter," 30 May 2018 Cardboard trays, gathered in one sector, hold scraps of natural materials — a skein of wool, desiccated plant matter. Charles Desmarais,, "Charles Desmarais’ art pick for July 15: Susanne Kriemann’s ‘Canopy, canopy’," 7 July 2018 The early days of sea exploration, especially in the Arctic, are filled with accounts of mariners following skeins of migrating geese to make a landfall. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Some words on birds and their impact on Alaska and the rest of the world," 24 June 2018 The massive shelter retains a warehouse vibe -- noisy but highly organized, with scores of staffers leading skeins of boys to various activities. Bob Ortega, CNN, "What it's like inside the former superstore in Texas where the US is holding 1,400 immigrant children," 14 June 2018 Kit includes Heidi's cool pattern and one skein of Madelinetosh Yarn. Mary Mooney,, "Traveling Ewe looking to expand; help them do it with Indiegogo and Patreon," 11 June 2018 To meet her deadline, Durant recruited a skein full of knitters to assist. Abby Ellin,, "Sweaters in Broadway’s ‘Carousel’ come with quite a yarn," 29 May 2018 The ceiling looked as though skeins of lace had been stretched across it and magically turned to stone; the windows shimmered as if gemstones had been pressed into glass. Joanna Pocock,, "Watching the royal wedding on the telly? Here's what you need to know about St. George's Chapel and Windsor Castle," 13 May 2018 Shade trees spindled past skeins of electrical wire, while the low plastic chairs of an open-air cafe sat neatly in the shade of a long, blank wall. New York Times, "Family, Meet My Old Love: Saigon," 20 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skein.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of skein


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1775, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for skein


Middle English skeyne, from Middle French (Picard) escagne, probably from Vulgar Latin *scamnia, from *scamniare to wind yarn, from *scamnium rack for holding bobbins, from Latin scamnum bench, stool — more at shambles

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Time Traveler for skein

The first known use of skein was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of skein

: a long piece of yarn or thread that is loosely wound


\ˈskān \

Kids Definition of skein

: a quantity of yarn or thread arranged in a loose coil

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with skein

Spanish Central: Translation of skein

Nglish: Translation of skein for Spanish Speakers

Comments on skein

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


having a pattern of small flowers

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