ˈspā How to pronounce spay (audio)
 nonstandard  ˈspād
spayed ˈspād How to pronounce spay (audio)
 nonstandard  ˈspā-dəd
; spaying ˈspā-iŋ How to pronounce spay (audio)
 nonstandard  ˈspā-diŋ

transitive verb

: to remove the ovaries and uterus of (a female animal)

Examples of spay in a Sentence

Our cat has been spayed.
Recent Examples on the Web The declaration, announced April 30, marked the first time the 11 government agencies and nonprofits have come together to raise awareness about pet adoption, fostering, spaying and neutering — a sign to the community of the seriousness of the crisis, officials said. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 May 2024 The lack of responsibility surrounding spaying and neutering in Tunica, and so many other communities in the South, is a crisis. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 10 May 2024 The second plate will benefit The Fix Is In, Inc., which provides support for spaying and neutering cats and dogs in Wisconsin. Hope Karnopp, Journal Sentinel, 9 May 2024 More:This was Detroit's most popular dog breed in 2023 After stray hold, Detroit Animal Care and Control requires that all animals are spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and heartworm-tested before they are adopted. Kylie Martin, Detroit Free Press, 6 May 2024 For years, Barker ended every episode of Price with a plea to have pets spayed or neutered. Lynette Rice,, 26 Aug. 2023 Soon after their labor, Mellow and Cheeto were spayed, Clever said. Paloma Chavez, Kansas City Star, 5 Apr. 2024 This past February, Dunn’s shelter held a clinic for spaying and neutering outdoor cats. Sachi Mulkey, WIRED, 23 Mar. 2024 The county contracts with an in-house vet that spays and neuters cats because the animal shelter doesn't have enough resources to provide surgeries themselves. The Courier-Journal, 23 Feb. 2024

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French espeer to pierce, castrate, from espee sword, from Latin spatha sword — more at spade

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spay was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near spay

Cite this Entry

“Spay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to remove the ovaries and uterus of (a female animal)

Medical Definition


transitive verb
spayed; spaying
: to remove the ovaries and uterus of (a female animal)

More from Merriam-Webster on spay

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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