spin·​dly | \ ˈspin(d)-lē How to pronounce spindly (audio) , ˈspin-dᵊl-ē \
spindlier; spindliest

Definition of spindly

1 : of a disproportionately tall or long and thin appearance that often suggests physical weakness spindly legs
2 : frail or flimsy in appearance or structure a spindly tower

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of spindly in a Sentence

spindly, underfed dogs roamed the poverty-stricken village
Recent Examples on the Web The spindly typical had caught his attention the previous season—maybe a 3-1⁄2-year-old in 2014. The Editors, Field & Stream, "The 20 Best Bucks of the Decade," 27 Dec. 2019 Sometimes presented in accordion-fold books, the variations here stretch across a wall that holds eight versions of a spindly tree and 16 of a beached fish. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: ‘Time Capsule’ retrospective highlights jazz’s influence on Frank Stewart," 20 Dec. 2019 But their bases were rimmed by shallow, spindly roots which probably lived only a year or two before the trees replaced them—nothing like the vast network supporting their Archaeopteris relatives. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "The World’s Oldest Forest Has 385-Million-Year-Old Tree Roots," 20 Dec. 2019 Artificial trees are mighty tempting: no spindly needles to vacuum, no need to water incessantly. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Let's Have Some Fun and Calculate the Carbon Footprint of Christmas," 19 Dec. 2019 On the wall of a cave in Indonesia, a humanoid figure with arms connected to a long, spindly object hovers over the head of a warty pig. Babak Tafreshi, National Geographic, "How do you re-create a prehistoric monster?," 18 Dec. 2019 The big skies, evening light, and spindly branches outside the retreat center’s windows reminded me of walking my dog in our wooded St. Louis neighborhood after school as a kid—alone, except for a terrier and the stars flickering to life. Jenni Avins, Quartz, "A spiritual retreat actually transformed me," 28 Nov. 2019 Where trunks should be thickening, spindly sticks poke the air, a handful of leaves sprouting from their tops. Jessica Wapner, Quartz, "Vietnamese women are hit harder by climate change—but they’re starting to fight back," 1 Dec. 2019 Come this June, however, visitors will encounter a jarring sight amid the bustling park: a tall grove of spindly dead cedar trees. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A ‘Ghost Forest’ Destroyed by Hurricane Sandy Will Be Resurrected in New York," 13 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spindly.' 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 spindly

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spindly

Time Traveler for spindly

Time Traveler

The first known use of spindly was in 1651

See more words from the same year

Statistics for spindly

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spindly.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spindly. Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spindly


How to pronounce spindly (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spindly

: long and thin and usually weak


spin·​dly | \ ˈspind-lē How to pronounce spindly (audio) \

Kids Definition of spindly

: being thin and long or tall and usually feeble or weak spindly legs a spindly plant

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on spindly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spindly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spindly

Spanish Central: Translation of spindly

Nglish: Translation of spindly for Spanish Speakers

Comments on spindly

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


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!