\ ˈspər How to pronounce spur (audio) \

Definition of spur

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a pointed device secured to a rider's heel and used to urge on the horse
b spurs plural [from the acquisition of spurs by a person achieving knighthood] : recognition and reward for achievement won his academic spurs as the holder of a chair in a university— James Mountford
2 : a goad to action : stimulus
3 : something projecting like or suggesting a spur: such as
a : a projecting root or branch of a tree, shrub, or vine
b(1) : a stiff sharp spine (as on the wings or legs of a bird or insect) especially : one on a cock's leg
(2) : a gaff for a gamecock
c : a hollow projecting appendage of a corolla or calyx (as in larkspur or columbine)
d : bone spur
4a : an angular projection, offshoot, or branch extending out beyond or away from a main body or formation especially : a ridge or lesser elevation that extends laterally from a mountain or mountain range
b : a railroad track that branches off from a main line
5 : a reinforcing buttress of masonry in a fortification
on the spur of the moment
: on impulse : suddenly


spurred; spurring

Definition of spur (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to urge (a horse) on with spurs
2 : to incite to action or accelerated growth or development : stimulate
3 : to put spurs on

intransitive verb

: to spur one's horse on

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Choose the Right Synonym for spur


motive, impulse, incentive, inducement, spur, goad mean a stimulus to action. motive implies an emotion or desire operating on the will and causing it to act. a motive for the crime impulse suggests a driving power arising from personal temperament or constitution. buying on impulse incentive applies to an external influence (such as an expected reward) inciting to action. a bonus was offered as an incentive inducement suggests a motive prompted by the deliberate enticements or allurements of another. offered a watch as an inducement to subscribe spur applies to a motive that stimulates the faculties or increases energy or ardor. fear was a spur to action goad suggests a motive that keeps one going against one's will or desire. thought insecurity a goad to worker efficiency

Examples of spur in a Sentence

Noun the threat of losing its only sports franchise was the spur the city council needed to finally do something about the rising crime rate a weak wall that might need a spur Verb The reward spurred them to work harder. Lower interest rates should spur economic growth. He spurred the horse onward.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Forget dreams of flawless service and deciding where to dine on the spur of the moment. Doug Gollan, Forbes, 7 June 2021 Lassen may well have conceived of his sandwich on the spur of the moment, but at that point many U.S. businesses were serving hamburgers. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 Three days later, a biopsy showed that what Dr. Bissonnette found during Maddie’s spur-of-the-moment check-up was Hepatoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that strikes the liver. San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 May 2021 More than 100 people had been vaccinated at the microbrewery by mid-afternoon on the first day, including some restaurant customers who decided to get the jab on the spur of the moment. Julie Washington, cleveland, 11 May 2021 The Hike: From the Battle Creek Falls Trailhead, pass the Kiwanis camp and take the left spur after the trail sign. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 May 2021 The textures from the boot, spur, and rope will accent any Texas-themed room. Jennifer Miko, Chron, 22 May 2021 Perhaps this spur of the Underground Railroad has been there for some time, and those men were doing something similar to Samson, Red, and Royal, here. Steffan Triplett, Vulture, 16 May 2021 The predevelopment agreement would cover the first 37 miles of the project — on the Beltway from the Virginia side of the American Legion Bridge to the I-270 spur and up I-270 to Frederick. Washington Post, 3 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb During his campaign, Mr. Biden promised to help spur a move away from fossil fuels, especially oil. Timothy Puko, WSJ, 1 June 2021 The project is still in its infancy, but Burk hopes to help spur an agricultural revolution in rural Native villages, where food costs are exorbitant and fresh produce is hard to come by. Author: Max Graham, Anchorage Daily News, 30 May 2021 Campbell was referring to the idea that promoting economic engagement with China could help spur more political openness, a notion that helped guide Washington’s relations with Beijing since the 1970s. Fortune, 27 May 2021 Special packages like Shea Homes’ Pure Living upgrades with handsfree faucets and air and water quality monitoring can help spur new home sales. Jamie Gold, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Europe is hoping that official plans to ease travel restrictions can help spur a summer tourism rebound as new coronavirus cases in the region decline sharply. Washington Post, 21 May 2021 Olson hopes the Elaine Legacy Center will help spur change. Christina Maxouris, CNN, 19 May 2021 The changes could also help spur a more rapid electrification of freight trucks, a significant step toward reducing emissions from transportation, the country’s biggest source of planet-warming greenhouse gases. New York Times, 8 May 2021 The details are sparse, but Wilkins and others in the industry working on hydrogen say that such policies could help spur more private investment in the technology. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, 15 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spur.' 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 spur


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for spur


Middle English spure, from Old English spura; akin to Old English spurnan to kick — more at spurn entry 1

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Learn More About spur

Time Traveler for spur

Time Traveler

The first known use of spur was before the 12th century

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Statistics for spur

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spur. Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for spur



English Language Learners Definition of spur

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a sharp pointed object that is attached to the heel of a horse rider's boot and that is pressed into the horse's side to make the horse go faster
: something that makes you want to do something or that causes something to happen
: a mass of sharp rock on the side of a mountain



English Language Learners Definition of spur (Entry 2 of 2)

: to encourage (someone) to do or achieve something
: to cause (something) to happen or to happen more quickly
: to urge (a horse) to go faster by pushing spurs into its sides


\ ˈspər How to pronounce spur (audio) \

Kids Definition of spur

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a pointed device fastened to the back of a rider's boot and used to urge a horse on
2 : something that makes a person want to do something : incentive
3 : a mass of jagged rock coming out from the side of a mountain
4 : a short section of railway track coming away from the main line
5 : a usually short pointed growth or projecting part (as a spine on the leg of a rooster)
on the spur of the moment
: without thinking for a long time We decided to go on the spur of the moment.
Hint: Spur-of-the-moment is often used as an adjective. a spur-of-the-moment decision

Other Words from spur

spurred \ ˈspərd \ adjective


spurred; spurring

Kids Definition of spur (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to urge a horse on with spurs
2 : incite A promised reward spurred them to work.


\ ˈspər How to pronounce spur (audio) \

Medical Definition of spur

1 : a projection from an anatomical part : calcar
2 : bone spur painful heel spurs

Other Words from spur

spurred \ ˈspərd How to pronounce spur (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on spur

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spur

Nglish: Translation of spur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spur for Arabic Speakers


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