Definition of spool in English:



  • 1A cylindrical device on which film, magnetic tape, thread, or other flexible materials can be wound; a reel.

    ‘spools of electrical cable’
    • ‘It began as a bulky analogue box running spools of tape.’
    • ‘If they were found with copies of the video in their newsgroup spool then they could be liable for prosecution.’
    • ‘Startlingly, her creative materials include marker caps, spools of thread, tacks, stickers, and pipe cleaners.’
    • ‘And I listened to the old tape with the scrawled track listing and the spools that squeaked when you turned them, and became a fan forever.’
    • ‘He has created exact and intimate renditions of domestic items such as a bottle-opener, a pen and refill, a box of matches, a needle and a spool of thread out of wax.’
    • ‘The expatriate's urban cityscape is assembled from large spools of colored thread, empty liquor bottles, and toy cars.’
    • ‘In addition, the company offers a new 3,500-yard king spool in its 304 rayon thread, with 35 shades available.’
    • ‘Cool as those bloody moments are, they fail to provide any depth or continuing sense of upset once the film spool has wound away.’
    • ‘On top stood a tiny covered, glass candy dish, which held a ‘bonbon’ made from stacked spools of thread.’
    • ‘In many cases, the data just sits there, unexamined, on spools of magnetic tape.’
    • ‘One glance at a photo of a scraggly-bearded Wilson, clad only in underwear and spools of magnetic tape, and the disinterest shown by station managers becomes quite understandable.’
    • ‘In a circular metal container is a spool of audiotape that records the sound of snow falling.’
    • ‘As it turns, the moulin draws the warp threads from another device that holds a row of spools, the separate threads coming together into a single skein as they are wound onto the frame.’
    • ‘The little dab of opaque glue that attached the other end of the film to its spool yielded a second white form at the lower right.’
    • ‘In several sculptures, painted yarn and spools of thread are made ambiguously tactile by offering hard surfaces on objects one knows to be soft.’
    • ‘Some of the visual referencing could come from the regular pops and scrapes in the vinyl, which are reminiscent of the sound of a spool of film being fed into a projector.’
    • ‘In A Midsummer Night's Dream, he takes his name from the term for an empty reel or spool used in weaving, though it obviously has additional comic implications.’
    • ‘The LP record became a spool of tape; the spool became a cassette; the cassette became a CD; the CD became MP3.’
    recording, cassette, tape recording
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A cylindrical device attached to a fishing rod and used for winding and unwinding the line as required.
      • ‘They're basically spools of line hung on the wall with bells attached.’
    2. 1.2as modifier Denoting furniture of a style popular in England in the 17th century and North America in the 19th century, typically ornamented with a series of small knobs resembling spools.
      ‘a narrow spool bed’


  • 1with object and adverbial Wind (magnetic tape, thread, etc.) on to a spool.

    ‘he was trying to spool his tapes back into the cassettes with a pencil eraser’
    • ‘Tapes with dual-reel cartridges eliminate the need for spooling the tape into the drive and cut the time to access data dramatically.’
    1. 1.1no object, with adverbial Be wound on or off a spool.
      ‘the plastic reel allows the line to run free as it spools out’
      • ‘Like a movie reel spooling back on itself the Irish piled back into their wagon, and with a newly elected driver turned her round and trudged back up the slope and out of the valley.’
      • ‘Concentrating, he could hear the tape spooling.’
      • ‘He looked from his subject to the plastic window of the cassette recorder where the tape spooled.’
  • 2Computing
    with object Send (data that is intended for printing or processing on a peripheral device) to an intermediate store.

    ‘users can set which folder they wish to spool files to’
    • ‘This keeps heavy print traffic off the network and allows commonly-used forms, fonts and signatures to be stored on the printer, so they don't have to be spooled across the network.’
  • 3no object (of an engine) increase its speed of rotation, typically to that required for operation.

    ‘a jet engine can take up to six seconds to spool up’
    • ‘You can probably hear the engines spooling up behind us.’
    • ‘The No.1 engine spooled up slower than the other three, which required a small nosewheel-steering input to maintain centerline.’
    • ‘The helicopter rattled a bit, the engine spooled back up, and Nr rapidly rose to 100 percent.’
    • ‘Imagine my surprise when both engines spooled down.’
    • ‘The engine spooled down through 45 percent, and the generator went offline, which tumbled our primary attitude and heading indicators.’
    • ‘In a nearly identical re-enactment of the first correction, the aircraft again pitched down to apparently continue the approach with the engines spooling back.’
    • ‘As the engines spooled down, I felt the same sensation I had while on the tanker: the pressure increased and my ears hurt.’
    • ‘We continued to roll as both engines spooled down.’
    • ‘As the engines spooled up, I wiped out the controls and began my habitual sweep of the cockpit, beginning with the hydraulic gauge on my right side.’
    • ‘I heard a change in engine rpm, and, halfway down the stroke, the right engine spooled down past 72 percent.’
    • ‘I jammed the throttles up, but the engines barely spooled up before I throttled back per my director's signal.’
    • ‘My first indication would have been the sound of an engine spooling down.’
    • ‘They love the sound of engines spooling up, the rush of air as the plane goes by.’
    • ‘The engines spooled down, because we had to shut them down in flight, to minimize the counterrotation induced by the torque on the rotor head.’


Middle English (denoting a spool for thread): shortening of Old French espole or from Middle Low German spōle, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch spoel and German Spule. The verb dates from the early 17th century.