spinster

noun

spin·​ster ˈspin(t)-stər How to pronounce spinster (audio)
1
: a woman whose occupation is to spin
2
a
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
spinsterhood noun
spinsterish adjective
spinsterly adjective

Examples of spinster in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Nor is Agnes happy about how well her spinster sister, Ada (Cynthia Nixon), is getting along with the church's friendly new rector, Luke Forte (Robert Sean Leonard). EW.com, 27 Oct. 2023 Like Miranda, Nixon’s Gilded Age character, Ada, is going through a romantic awakening of her own, having married for the first time after being a spinster her entire life. Vulture, 17 Jan. 2024 Advertisement Esther is a lonely spinster who falls in love with George, an immigrant worker on the Panama Canal project who woos her through a series of romantic letters, penned and read by others, since Esther and George are illiterate. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Jan. 2024 Like Nicki Minaj, Maude Apatow, Chloe Cherry and Julia Fox: all of whom have emerged on the red carpet looking, some might say, like vengeful 19th-century spinsters. Daniel Rodgers, Vogue, 28 Nov. 2023 On the strength of those performances, the Nebraska native — no, she was not born in Germany — was cast in 1963 as the spinster Lizzy in 110 in the Shade, based on N. Richard Nash’s play The Rainmaker. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 July 2023 Who knows, maybe some of these spinsters just haven’t met the right part-time wedding d.j. yet? Danielle Kraese, The New Yorker, 14 June 2023 Vittoria, a spinster maid, has no social or marital or professional status to elevate her, no institutional power on her side, no particular neighborhood influence or leverage except for her emotive force, which is considerable: to Giovanna her seething is majestic. Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books, 24 Sep. 2020 Of all the female characters in 19th-century literature, none remain quite as mystifying—or misunderstood—as Miss Havisham, the wedding dress–enshrouded, organizationally challenged spinster at the heart of Charles Dickens’s 1861 novel Great Expectations. Anna Fixsen, ELLE Decor, 18 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near spinster

Cite this Entry

“Spinster.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spinster. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

spinster

noun
spin·​ster ˈspin(t)-stər How to pronounce spinster (audio)
1
: a woman whose occupation is to spin
2
: an unmarried woman past the usual age for marrying
spinsterhood noun
spinsterish adjective
spinsterly adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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