spin·​drift | \ ˈspin-ˌdrift How to pronounce spindrift (audio) \

Definition of spindrift

1 : sea spray especially : spray blown from waves during a gale
2 : fine wind-borne snow or sand

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Spindrift first set sail in the mid-18th century under Scottish command. During its first voyage, it was known by the Scottish moniker "speendrift." Speen meant "to drive before a strong wind," so a "speendrift" was a drift of spray during such action. In 1823, English speakers recruited the word, but signed it up as "spindrift." At that time, its sole duty was to describe the driving sprays at sea. However, English speakers soon realized that "spindrift" had potential to serve on land as well, and the word was sent ashore to describe driving snow and sand. Today, "spindrift" still serves us commendably at sea and on land.

Examples of spindrift in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Another thoughtful feature: The front vestibule has a flap that blocks spindrift reasonably well, according to Backpacker. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, 3 Dec. 2020 A foot of new snow had fallen the night before, and spindrift whipped off La Meije, a sea of icy blue glaciers pocked by crevasses and cliffs unfurling down its flanks. Kelley Mcmillan Manley, New York Times, 20 Nov. 2016

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

First Known Use of spindrift

1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spindrift

alteration of Scots speendrift, from speen to drive before a strong wind + English drift

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The first known use of spindrift was in 1823

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spin doctor



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Cite this Entry

“Spindrift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spindrift. Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

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