• (RP) IPA: /ˈdɪstɑːf/
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈdɪstæf/

distaff (plural distaffs)

  1. A device to which a bundle#Noun|bundle of natural#Adjective|natural fibres (often wool, flax, or cotton#Noun|cotton) are attached for temporary storage, before being drawn off gradually to spin#Verb|spin thread#Noun|thread. A traditional distaff is a staff#Noun|staff with flax fibres tied loosely to it (as indicated by the etymology of the word), but modern distaffs are often made of cord#Noun|cords weight#Verb|weighted with bead#Noun|beads, and attached to the wrist.
    • c. 1601–1602, William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or VVhat You VVill”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act I, scene iii], page 256 ↗:
      Then hadſt thou had an excellent head of haire. […] Excellent, it hangs like flax on a diſtaffe: & I hope to ſee a huſwife take thee between her legs, & ſpin it off.
    • c. 1603–1606, [William Shakespeare], […] His True Chronicle Historie of the Life and Death of King Lear and His Three Daughters. […] (First Quarto), London: Printed for Nathaniel Butter, […], published 1608, OCLC 54196469 ↗, [Act IV, scene ii] ↗:
      I muſt change armes at home, and giue the diſtaffe / Into my Husbands hands, {{...}
  2. The part of a spinning wheel from which fibre is draw#Verb|drawn to be spin#Verb|spun.
  3. Anything traditionally done by or considered of importance to women only.
  4. A race for female horses only.
  5. A woman, or women considered as a group.
Translations Translations
  • French: quenouille
  • German: Rocken, Spinnrocken (usually post-classical), Kunkel (South German), Wocken (Low-German-influenced areas)
  • Italian: rocchetto
  • Portuguese: roca
  • Russian: пря́слица
  • Spanish: rueca

distaff (not comparable)

  1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of women.
  2. Of the maternal side#Noun|side of a family.
Synonyms Antonyms Translations

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