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

Keep scrolling for more

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 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 There's time travel, there's the career obsessed spinster in the big city who gets sent to a charming small town, falls in love with a guy and the magic of Christmas. Chris Quinn, Editor, cleveland, "Hallmark holiday movies are hokey, predictable mush, but at cleveland.com we do love them for the escape: This Week in the CLE," 28 Nov. 2019 This means that whereas there are more single women than men in big cities like Tokyo, bachelors outnumber spinsters in rural areas. The Economist, "Japan’s state-owned version of Tinder," 3 Oct. 2019 Leading up to her wedding, Lady Edith (the former spinster and one of Mary's sisters) is surprised at The Ritz by Bertie Pelham, who had previously broken her heart. Leanne Italie, chicagotribune.com, "What you need to know before seeing the ‘Downton Abbey’ movie," 10 Sep. 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.

See More

First Known Use of spinster

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spinster

Time Traveler for spinster

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for spinster

Cite this Entry

“Spinster.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spinster. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on spinster

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!