Definition of spindle in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈspɪnd(ə)l/


1A slender rounded rod with tapered ends used in hand spinning to twist and wind thread from a mass of wool or flax held on a distaff.
Example sentences
  • There'll always be a huge demand here for raw wool from Australia, provided we can keep the spindles here spinning wool and keep them away from spinning synthetics.
  • While traveling along the Inca Road, Muller carries wool and a spindle with her.
  • Having prepared the wool or flax the women would then have spun it using a drop spindle (spinning wheels are a much later invention).
1.1A pin or rod used on a spinning wheel to twist and wind the thread.
Example sentences
  • The Asoka Chakra could be viewed, imaginatively, as a spinning-wheel without the spindle and spinner.
  • Davis's are flatter, and by this point he had progressed to using bamboo-turned spindles.
  • Nowhere else in India will you see spinning on single spindle charkas with 24 spokes, claims Lakshman Rao.
1.2A pin bearing the bobbin of a spinning machine.
Example sentences
  • Attention must also be made to the reels bearings in which the spindle of the spool is housed.
  • A gossamer thread issues from her enormous abdomen at a steady clip, wound by a motor onto a revolving spindle.
  • This problem was particularly acute in the textile sector where a large number of spindles were set up on the basis of suppliers' credits.
1.3A measure of length for yarn, equal to 15,120 yards (13,826 metres) for cotton or 14,400 yards (13,167 metres) for linen.
Example sentences
  • Based on engineering specifications, the most efficient minimum production level of a spinning mill is 30,000 spindles.
1.4A turned piece of wood used as a banister or chair leg.
Example sentences
  • The spindles of Windsor chairs support the spine and move with the sitter's changes in position.
  • A couple of spindles in the banister were hanging loose.
  • If held to shape and allowed to dry - only a few days would be necessary for thin spindles - wood will hold its shape as well as if it were steam bent.
1.5North American A pointed metal rod on a base, used for filing paper items.
Example sentences
  • The spindle had papers stuck onto it; one of them slid off and away through the air.
  • Keep track of all your orders with this simple wire order slip spindle.
  • The sociologist said the spindle would align statuses since the orders will have to wait till the cook got them.
2A rod or pin serving as an axis that revolves or on which something revolves.
Example sentences
  • It is for this reason that we spot-face our cranks at the same time we drill the hole for the pedal spindle and bottom bracket axis.
  • Golder uses felt mops, which he makes himself, on a spindle revolving at 3,000 revs, and employs pumice powder mixed with vegetable oil to polish the silver.
  • We currently use both air-bearing spindles and electric motors to rotate the disks.
pivot, pin, rod, axle;
technical gudgeon, mandrel, arbor, capstan, staff, fusee
2.1The vertical rod at the centre of a record turntable which keeps the record in place during play.
Example sentences
  • In the early 1980s, there were definitely some breakage problems with the first titanium Super Record spindles.
  • That's the ones when they used to have the spindle that drops six records, 45s, at one time.
3 Biology A slender mass of microtubules formed when a cell divides. At metaphase the chromosomes become attached to it by their centromeres before being pulled towards its ends.
Example sentences
  • A critical step in the cell cycle is the proper attachment of chromosomes to the mitotic spindle during metaphase.
  • Metaphase spindles with replicated mitotic chromosomes were assembled in meiotic Xenopus egg extracts as described.
  • Kinetochore proteins bind to a microtubule spindle to keep chromosomes segregated during cell division.
4 (also spindle tree or bush) A Eurasian shrub or small tree with slender toothed leaves and pink capsules containing bright orange seeds. Its hard timber was formerly used for making spindles.
  • Genus Euonymus, family Celastraceae: several species, in particular E. europaea.
Example sentences
  • A lime tree there is already turning a beautiful bright yellow, and a large Himalayan spindle bush is taking on rich red and pink colouring.
  • The British native spindle bush has a highly ornamental climbing relative that produces wonderfully coloured fruits.
  • For a more formal approach to home decorating, Carter is a big fan of miniature tree-like plants such as New Zealand tea trees, winter cherries and Japanese spindle.


Old English spinel, from the base of the verb spin.

  • spin from Old English:

    An Old English word that originally meant ‘to draw out and twist fibre’. The expression to spin a yarn, ‘to tell a long, far-fetched story’, is nautical in origin. An important job on board ship was making and repairing ropes, a task which involved twisting together a number of long threads or ‘yarns’. The image of this process and the reputation sailors had for telling tall tales of fabulous far-flung lands combined to produce the phrase we know today. Tony Blair's Labour government in Britain, elected in 1997, gained a reputation for its use of spin and spin doctors, but spin meaning ‘the presentation of information in a particular way, a slant’ started in the USA. It was first recorded in 1977 in the Washington Post, with spin doctor following in 1984. Spindle (Old English), originally spinel, comes from ‘spin’.

Words that rhyme with spindle

brindle, dwindle, kindle, swindle, Tyndale

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: spin¦dle

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.