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)

Example Sentences

Our cat has been spayed.
Recent Examples on the Web She also wasn't spayed, hadn't been seen by a veterinarian in quite a while, hadn't been bathed, had a double ear infection and some liver issues. Saleen Martin, USA TODAY, 17 May 2023 Those puppies — if not spayed and neutered — then go on to reproduce, too, and the number of potcakes expands exponentially. Sydney Page, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2023 All the dogs will be spayed or neutered, microchipped and up to date on vaccinations, the release said. Rae Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 11 May 2023 Instead of evicting the cats, Disneyland’s animal wranglers worked to control the feline population by spaying and neutering the adult cats and finding homes for all kittens born in the resort. Terry Castleman, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2023 Dogs that are not neutered or spayed can produce a line of thousands of puppies in the span of only a few years. Sydney Page, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2023 Since the program began in 1997, more than 35,000 feral cats on Long Island have been spayed or neutered through Operation Cat. Christine Rousselle, Fox News, 1 Apr. 2023 Johnson says one action that can help otters is spaying and neutering cats and managing feral cat populations. Byerik Stokstad,, 22 Mar. 2023 Each animal is spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and has a county license tag. Kari Barnett, Sun Sentinel, 14 Mar. 2023 See More

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 31 May. 2023.

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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