From Middle English spynnester (“woman who spins fibre”), from c. 1350; equivalent to spin + -ster. The semantic development is from a historical notion of unmarried women spinning thread for a living.
spinster (plural spinsters)
- (sometimes derogatory) A woman who has never been married, especially one past the typical marrying age according to social traditions.
- Synonym: old maid
- (Can we date this quote by Coke and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
- If a gentlewoman be termed a spinster, she may abate the writ.
- One who spins (puts a spin on) a political media story so as to give something a favorable or advantageous appearance; a spin doctor, spin merchant or spin master.
- (obsolete) Someone whose occupation was spinning thread.
- (obsolete) A woman of evil life and character; so called from being forced to spin in a house of correction.
- (rare) A spider; an insect (such as a silkworm) which spins thread.
- a female spinner