spinsterish

spinster

[spin-ster]
noun
1.
Disparaging and Offensive. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying.
2.
Chiefly Law. a woman who has never married.
3.
a woman whose occupation is spinning.

Origin:
1325–75; Middle English spinnestere a woman who spins. See spin, -ster

spinsterhood, noun
spinsterish, adjective
spinsterishly, adverb
spinsterlike, adjective


The meaning “a woman beyond the usual marriageable age” is used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting. It implies negative qualities such as being fussy or undesirable. See also old maid.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
spinster (ˈspɪnstə)
 
n
1.  an unmarried woman regarded as being beyond the age of marriage
2.  law Compare feme sole (in legal documents) a woman who has never married
3.  (formerly) a woman who spins thread for her living
 
[C14 (in the sense: a person, esp a woman, whose occupation is spinning; C17: a woman still unmarried): from spin + -ster]
 
'spinsterhood
 
n
 
'spinsterish
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

spinster
mid-14c., "female spinner of thread," from M.E. spinnen (see spin) + -stere, feminine suffix. Spinning commonly done by unmarried women, hence the word came to denote "an unmarried woman" in legal documents from 1600s to early 1900s, and by 1719 was being used generically for
"woman still unmarried and beyond the usual age for it."
"Spinster, a terme, or an addition in our Common Law, onely added in Obligations, Euidences, and Writings, vnto maids vnmarried." [John Minsheu, "Ductor in Linguas," 1617]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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