span·​ker ˈspaŋ-kər How to pronounce spanker (audio)
: the fore-and-aft sail on the mast nearest the stern of a square-rigged ship
: the sail on the mast nearest the stern of a schooner of four or more masts

Examples of spanker in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And Alabama is a big spanker. John Archibald |, al, 24 Aug. 2022 If this season’s crop of romances is anything to go by, there’s no general rush to the whip: E. L. James and a few other spankers may have both stirred up a vast market and satisfied it. Robert Gottlieb, New York Times, 26 Sep. 2017 The women at the observatory used fly spankers, which sound like something from 50 Shades of Grey. National Geographic, 25 Dec. 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spanker.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spanker was in 1794

Dictionary Entries Near spanker

Cite this Entry

“Spanker.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!