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

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

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 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, "On These French Ski Slopes, You’re on Your Own," 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spindrift

Listen to Our Podcast about spindrift

Statistics for spindrift

Time Traveler for spindrift

The first known use of spindrift was in 1823

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on spindrift

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spindrift

Comments on spindrift

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


a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!