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

Definition of spay

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

Programs to spay/neuter and release community cats are one factor. Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times, "Why Euthanasia Rates at Animal Shelters Have Plummeted," 3 Sep. 2019 If the pets aren’t neutered or spayed, then chances are they aren’t vaccinated or licensed, either. Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: Calling out this scam," 2 Sep. 2019 The dogs were almost exclusively found in low-income South Dallas neighborhoods, where only 15 percent of them were spayed or neutered. Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times, "Why Euthanasia Rates at Animal Shelters Have Plummeted," 3 Sep. 2019 Last year, the Kentucky Humane Society found homes for more than 6,000 animals and spayed or neutered more than 10,000 area cats and dogs at their S.N.I.P. Clinic. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "How you can party with puppies and kittens for a good cause in Louisville," 24 July 2019 In the United States, there are 30 to 40 million stray or feral cats roaming outside and only about 2% of them have been spayed or neutered. Meghan Dunn, CNN, "Meet Instagram's Paul the Cat Guy," 20 June 2019 Dogs that are on the high end of the scale usually come fully vaccinated, spayed/neutered and microchipped. NBC News, "Adopting a pet? Ask yourself these questions first," 12 Sep. 2019 And the best part: Pixie’s adoption fees are waived, like with all senior dogs ages 7 and up — as well as ready-to-go dogs, which are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to go home the same day as a visit. Kathleen Christiansen,, "Featured Pet: Pixie from Orange County Animal Services," 9 Aug. 2019 Bramble is spayed, up to date on all shots, licensed with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control and microchipped. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "A sibling duo and more up for adoption in Phoenix-area shelters this week," 26 July 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of spay

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for spay

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spay

Dictionary Entries near spay


spawning ground






Statistics for spay

Last Updated

16 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spay

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spay



English Language Learners Definition of spay

: to remove the sex organs of (a female animal) : to make (a female animal) unable to have babies


\ ˈspā How to pronounce spay (audio) \
spayed; spaying

Kids Definition of spay

: to remove the ovaries of (a female animal) a spayed cat
\ ˈspā How to pronounce spay (audio) \
spayed; spaying

Medical Definition of spay

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on spay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spay

Spanish Central: Translation of spay

Nglish: Translation of spay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spay for Arabic Speakers

Comments on spay

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


tired or exhausted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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