From Middle English spale (“splinter”), perhaps partly from Old English *spalu (“flat bar, flake, chip”) or Old Norse spǫlr (“plank, rail, bar, short piece of wood”), both from Proto-Germanic *spaluz (“pole, rod, thin bar, lath”); and partly as an alteration of Old English speld (“ember, flake, torch, splinter, thin piece of wood used as a torch”), from Proto-Germanic *speldą (“that which is split, splinter, board”); both from Proto-Indo-European *(s)pala-, *(s)pel- (“to split in two, split in half”). Cognate with Middle High German spale ("rung of a ladder"; > German dialectal Spale (“a wooden split, wedge”)), Swedish dialectal spalu (“splinter”), Norwegian dialectal spel, spela, spila (“a splinter”), Icelandic spölur (“bit, short piece”). See also split.
- Rhymes: -eɪl
spale (plural spales)
- (Now chiefly dialectal, Scotland) A chip or splinter of wood.
- A lath; a shaving or chip, as of wood or stone.
- A strengthening cross timber.
- (ship-building) One of a number of cross-bands fastened temprarily to the frames to keep them in place until properly secured; a spaling.
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.