spin·​ster | \ ˈspin(t)-stər How to pronounce spinster (audio) \

Definition of spinster

1 : a woman whose occupation is to spin
2a archaic : an unmarried woman of gentle family
b : an unmarried woman and especially one past the common age for marrying
3 : a woman who seems unlikely to marry

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Other Words from spinster

spinsterhood \ ˈspin(t)-​stər-​ˌhu̇d How to pronounce spinsterhood (audio) \ noun
spinsterish \ ˈspin(t)-​st(ə-​)rish How to pronounce spinsterish (audio) \ adjective
spinsterly adjective

Examples of spinster in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Beneath the thick beard and mustache, Cowboy Bob was discovered by police to be Peggy Jo Tallas, a soft-spoken spinster from Garland who lived most of her life with her mother. Christopher Wynn, Dallas News, "‘Criminal’ podcast tackles the wild Texas tale of bank robber ‘Cowboy Bob’," 26 May 2020 The spinster was replaced by the cocktail/wine-swigging singleton. Vicky Spratt, refinery29.com, "How Being Single Has Been Rebranded," 1 May 2020 This austere drama, set in a remote 19th century Danish village, culminates in the serving of the eponymous feast prepared by Stéphane Audran’s Babette, once a great Parisian chef, now housemaid to two spinster sisters. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "Home theater: A feast for foodies and film fans," 20 May 2020 One of the more legendary bits of direction in film history is John Huston telling Hepburn, who plays a missionary’s spinster sister, to channel Eleanor Roosevelt. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Harvard Film Archive floats some boats with 2019 overnight movie marathon," 22 Aug. 2019 In the film’s metatextual ending, Jo proposes that the leading character in her manuscript of Little Women marry Professor Bhaer only because her editor will not pay for a novel whose heroine remains a literary spinster. John Matteson, The Atlantic, "One Way the New Little Women Film Is Radical," 1 Jan. 2020 This week’s selections spotlight new and newly revised plays with lessons and legacies drawn from real-world events, from the journeys of an immigrant family and a devout Southern spinster to a pair of dramas shaped by the Holocaust. Philip Brandes, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. theater best bets: A virgin’s chance at romance in ‘Miss Lilly’ at Rogue Machine," 20 Sep. 2019 The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, in particular, has an infamous obsession with family benefits, opposing any spending on parents and children with the vitriol of a Randian spinster. Samuel Hammond, National Review, "Family-Forward Conservatism Could Be the Future," 18 Dec. 2019 Women who were once called spinsters eventually started being called old maids. Amy Froide, The Conversation, "Spinster, old maid or self-partnered – why words for single women have changed through time," 2 Dec. 2019

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

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First Known Use of spinster

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for spinster

Time Traveler

The first known use of spinster was in the 14th century

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Statistics for spinster

Last Updated

12 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spinster.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spinster. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for spinster


How to pronounce spinster (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spinster

old-fashioned + often disapproving : an unmarried woman who is past the usual age for marrying and is considered unlikely to marry


spin·​ster | \ ˈspin-stər How to pronounce spinster (audio) \

Kids Definition of spinster

: an unmarried woman past the usual age for marrying

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