\ ˈspər How to pronounce spur (audio) \

Essential Meaning of spur

1 : 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
2 : something that makes you want to do something or that causes something to happen : incentive
3 : a mass of sharp rock on the side of a mountain

Full 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 The pharmaceutical industry has argued against a waiver, in part because intellectual property protections are a spur for innovation. Mike Bird, WSJ, 6 May 2021 This sense of the assassination as a collective tragedy, of an entire culture haunted by a road not taken, was a vital spur to the Black Arts and Black Power movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Brandon M. Terry, The New York Review of Books, 25 Feb. 2021 Any secret frustrations that have been brewing about the weight of your responsibilities may finally burst out in a spur-of-the-moment decision to chuck them all and go on a spontaneous adventure. Tarot Astrologers, chicagotribune.com, 31 July 2021 With a parallel rail transit route in the spur right of way, there should be federal and state funds available. Star Tribune, 8 June 2021 Barrientes said his success on Friday, and in spur-of-the-moment situations, comes from earlier in the week. Dallas News, 14 Sep. 2021 On what seems to have been the spur of the moment, Washington decided to hop on a schooner and sail from New York to Newport and Providence. BostonGlobe.com, 10 Sep. 2021 Sports might also be the spur that prompts some schools to comply with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate. John Keilman, chicagotribune.com, 28 Aug. 2021 In this age of sheltering, hanging out has morphed into hanging in, leaving us to fantasize about spur-of-the-moment escapes out of our comfort zone. Robin Soslow, Chron, 8 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As vaccine mandates spur debate and anger in workplaces across the country, some on social media claim vaccines are also being cited to deny organ transplants to some patients. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, 21 Oct. 2021 The gangs are shaping up as the equivalent of Somali warlords, threatening to turn Haiti into a failed state that would affect neighboring countries and likely spur a wave of migration to the U.S. David Luhnow And Juan Montes, WSJ, 19 Oct. 2021 The administration says the giant companies will set an example that will spur others to follow. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 And Vice President Kamala Harris has apparently had little impact on conditions in Central America that spur migration -- in a mission assigned by Biden. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 12 Oct. 2021 State investigators discovered the tobacco company R.J. Reynolds’ secret marketing plans to use the cartoon mascot Joe Camel to turn children into smokers, a finding that helped buttress lawsuits against the company and spur lawmakers into action. Cecilia Kang, New York Times, 9 Oct. 2021 IPP Renewed’s larger impact could come with its role promoting the infrastructure and investment that could spur a boom in renewable energy in Beaver and Millard counties, covering a region of Utah in need of new economic opportunities. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Oct. 2021 This year’s cotton crop is looking strong, so a shortage, which could spur a much bigger spike, is unlikely. Chris Morris, Fortune, 5 Oct. 2021 If fully met, the treaty is expected to prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100, and could spur reinvestment in the cooling industry as manufacturers switch to producing equipment that does not use HFCs. Energy Innovation: Policy And Technology, Forbes, 29 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for spur

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near spur

spun yarn


spur bit

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Statistics for spur

Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spur. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for spur


\ 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

Nglish: Translation of spur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spur for Arabic Speakers


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