spin·​drift ˈspin-ˌdrift How to pronounce spindrift (audio)
: sea spray
especially : spray blown from waves during a gale
: fine wind-borne snow or sand

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 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spindrift.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spindrift was in 1823


Dictionary Entries Near spindrift

Cite this Entry

“Spindrift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spindrift. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


spin·​drift ˈspin-ˌdrift How to pronounce spindrift (audio)
: spray blown from waves

More from Merriam-Webster on spindrift

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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