• WordNet 3.6
    • n spinster someone who spins (who twists fibers into threads)
    • n spinster an elderly unmarried woman
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

A spinster instructs a group of younger ladies on the unnecessary nature of husbands. The caption says, “Nonsense, my dears! Husbands are ridiculous things & are quite unnecessary!” A spinster instructs a group of younger ladies on the unnecessary nature of husbands. The caption says, “Nonsense, my...

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Spinster A man who spins.
    • Spinster A woman of evil life and character; -- so called from being forced to spin in a house of correction.
    • Spinster A woman who spins, or whose occupation is to spin. "She spake to spinster to spin it out.""The spinsters and the knitters in the sun."
    • Spinster (Law) An unmarried or single woman; -- used in legal proceedings as a title, or addition to the surname. "If a gentlewoman be termed a spinster , she may abate the writ."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n spinster A woman who spins; by extension, any person who spins; a spinner.
    • n spinster An unmarried woman (so called because she was supposed to occupy herself with spinning): the legal designation in England of all unmarried women from a viscount's daughter downward; popularly, an elderly unmarried woman; an “old maid”: sometimes used adjectively.
    • n spinster A woman of an evil life or character: so called from being forced to spin in the house of correction. See spin-house.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Spinster spin′stėr an unmarried female: an old maid:
    • n Spinster spin′stėr (obs.) a woman of loose character, fit for the spinning-house
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Spin, + -ster,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Orig. one who spins.


In literature:

Common proverbs portray the character of the spinster as peevish, selfish, given to queer fancies, and unpleasant eccentricities.
"The Physical Life of Woman:" by Dr. George H Napheys
She makes change without looking at him or ceasing to tell a small hunchbacked spinster standing by about somebody's wedding.
"Bonaventure" by George Washington Cable
The spinster's eyes filled with tears when she first saw Nancy.
"The Lost Despatch" by Natalie Sumner Lincoln
But the men would read it and cancel the order for my next book, and say I must be a spinster, living a sort of in-bred existence.
"'Oh, Well, You Know How Women Are!' AND 'Isn't That Just Like a Man!'" by Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
He was very sorry, but he displayed more philosophy than the spinster, and "bore up" well under the trial.
"Down The River" by Oliver Optic
Anyway, I wasn't cut out for a spinster!
"Have We No Rights?" by Mabel Williamson
Aunt Phebe seemed a good deal more than a mother to the nice spinster daughter.
"Country Neighbors" by Alice Brown
He had married Lillian Garner, who was described as a spinster.
"The Opal Serpent" by Fergus Hume
Miss Susan was a tall, grim, angular spinster who looked like the last person in the world to whom a love affair might be confided.
"Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1907 to 1908" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
And there is another chapter about a spinster, also marked.
"Wappin' Wharf" by Charles S. Brooks

In poetry:

There’s your pickle-faced curmudgeon
With reproach each woman stings,
And the disappointed spinster
Says all men are ugly things.
"Fools" by Joseph Warren Watson
To me was ANNA; dear as gold
That fills the miser's sunless coffers;
As to the spinster, growing old,
The thought--the dream--that she had offers.
"Gemini And Virgo" by Charles Stuart Calverley
Prince, show me the quickest way and best
To gain the subject of my moan;
We've neither spinsters nor relics out West—
These do I love, and these alone.
"Ballad Of Women I Love" by Eugene Field
That life is a spinster I often have read,
And too fine she draws out her spider--like thread;
A breath can destroy what's so slenderly made,
And life for her trouble has seldom been paid.
"Miss Gilpin’s Song" by Susanna Blamire
'Tis my fortune to know a lean Benthamite spinster —
A maid, who her faith in old Jeremy puts;
Who talks, with a lisp, of the "last new Westminster,"
And hopes you're delighted with "Mill upon Gluts";
"Ode to the Sublime Porte" by Thomas Moore
Thus, SLANDER turns against its maker;
And if this little Story reaches
A SPINSTER, who her PARROT teaches,
Let her a better task pursue,
And here, the certain VENGEANCE view
Which surely will, in TIME, O'ERTAKE HER.
"Deborah's Parrot, a Village Tale" by Mary Darby Robinson

In news:

Murderous spinster sisters make for killer comedy.
Proviso DQ Gives Spinster to Mushka.
Fillie In Lingerie wins Spinster Stakes Sunday.
In Lingerie Gets Perfect Trip in Spinster Win.
In Lingerie scored her first grade I victory when she took the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes by two lengths Oct 6 at Keeneland in Central Kentucky.
In Lingerie wins the Grade 1, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on October 7, 2012.
In Lingerie wins Juddmonte Spinster .
As Kim Kardashian approaches her 30th birthday in October, she is joining the ranks of women such as Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson: modern-day spinsters.
In Lingerie wins Keeneland's Spinster , stays unbeaten on synthetic surfaces.
Spinster Sisters a promising addition to South A district.
Santa Rosa's South A neighborhood is in a constant state of near- and almost-revival, but the Spinster Sisters might just complete the task.
"30 Rock's" resident spinster might be nearing the end of her single days NBC announced Thursday that Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey, will be getting married in the Nov 29 episode.
Bailey Schuldt (left) filled in as Watson on Saturday's Big Foot High School production of "Sherlock Holmes and the spinsters of Blackmead".
Aruna in the Spinster Stakes.
In Lingerie wins Juddmonte Spinster.