span·​dex ˈspan-ˌdeks How to pronounce spandex (audio)
: any of various elastic textile fibers made chiefly of polyurethane
also : clothing made of this material

Did you know?

Spandex is a fiber that has had an impact on fashion high and low, casual and formal, outer and under. It's not a trademark, as a number of the names of other fibers are, among them Dacron, Lycra, and Orlon. It's a generic term, coined in 1959 as an anagram of the word expands. Anagrammatic coinages are not common; the only other in our dictionaries that the average person is likely to be familiar with is sideburns. Sideburns is an anagram (and synonym) of burnsides, from Ambrose E. Burnside, a Union general in the American Civil War credited with originating the fashion (in the U.S., at least) also known as side-whiskers.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web These Filson Heavyweight Traditional Crew Socks are composed of natural merino wool combined with a mixture of nylon and spandex for longevity and flexibility. John Thompson, Men's Health, 30 Nov. 2022 Made for dancing, running, jogging, dog walking and more, this nylon and spandex number even has a shorts liner for extra coverage. Shanon Maglente And Cailey Lindberg, Good Housekeeping, 17 Nov. 2022 Made of polyester and spandex, the plush socks are soft and a bit stretchy. Isabel Garcia, Peoplemag, 19 Nov. 2022 They're made with polyester and spandex and feature a large side pocket perfect for your cell phone. Emma Seymour, Good Housekeeping, 24 Oct. 2022 The Oprah-favorite Compression Leggings are made from a combination of recycled water bottles and spandex, all blended into a comfortable fabric that offers breathability and four-way stretch. Nicol Natale, Peoplemag, 4 Nov. 2022 The blend of synthetic fabrics (80% nylon and 20% spandex) make these a great choice over traditional cotton. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 31 Oct. 2022 And Addison is a (wo)man of the people, meaning her lewks are often affordable — think $5 spandex headbands, DIY-friendly nail art, '70s-style striped bikinis, and flirty ruffled midi dresses. Abby Dupes, Seventeen, 25 Oct. 2022 Kleiser was not privy to the meetings about Sandy’s dramatic finale transformation into a leather-and-spandex-wearing bad girl. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History


anagram of expands

First Known Use

1959, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spandex was in 1959


Dictionary Entries Near spandex

Cite this Entry

“Spandex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


span·​dex ˈspan-ˌdeks How to pronounce spandex (audio)
: any of various synthetic elastic textile fibers

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