Definition of spinster in English:


Line breaks: spin|ster
Pronunciation: /ˈspɪnstə


An unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage.
More example sentences
  • He is a gigolo, a love 'em and leave 'em flimflam man who promises widows and spinsters marriage and devotion on the premise of a substantial upfront cash payment.
  • Finally, the night was drawing to an end and I was dragged up the front along with all the other unmarried spinsters - against my protests - to try and catch the bouquet.
  • At one time this would have raised eyebrows - all those lonely spinsters and neglected bachelors sitting at home, pining for a mate.


late Middle English (in the sense 'woman who spins'): from the verb spin + -ster; in early use the term was appended to names of women to denote their occupation. The current sense dates from the early 18th century.


The development of the word spinster is a good example of the way in which a word acquires strong connotations to the extent that it can no longer be used in a neutral sense. From the 17th century the word was appended to names as the official legal description of an unmarried woman: Elizabeth Harris of London, Spinster. This type of use survives today in some legal and religious contexts. In modern everyday English, however, spinster cannot be used to mean simplyunmarried woman’; it is now always a derogatory term, referring or alluding to a stereotype of an older woman who is unmarried, childless, prissy, and repressed.



More example sentences
  • I swear to God… I am preparing for my spinsterhood.
  • Her omnipotent Jewish mother valiantly works to end her daughter's spinsterhood, but to no avail.
  • Or perhaps, in a more generous mood, you'd have her turning 40 and sinking gracefully into the silent oblivion of confirmed spinsterhood.


More example sentences
  • Sheba is branded a harlot in the press and forced to quit her job and flee the family home, which she does with Barbara Covett, the school's spinsterish history teacher.
  • Lenore's a singing waitress who's been dumped by her long-term boyfriend; Heidi is a spinsterish professor at Concordia, partnerless, but determined to get pregnant.
  • Too stern, too bookish, or too spinsterish - it was obvious that choosing glasses is tougher than finding a single man who's not weird.

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Pronunciation: ˈrɛtrə(ʊ)flɛks
turned backwards