Definition of skein in English:



  • 1A length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted.

    • ‘The ship's boiler has lost its outer casing and the masses of steam pipes are left hanging and twisted like skeins of wool.’
    • ‘Rich reds and oranges contrast with washed-out bluish surfaces; meshwork on the left opens onto some deeper orange space, while skeins of broken meshwork on the right seem to trail behind.’
    • ‘It makes life much easier for each large bag to have a small plastic bag on top, filled with yarns of shorter lengths, approximately 18 inches to 3 inches, than the large skeins and/or balls.’
    • ‘He would bring in these elaborate sweaters with Shetland ponies on the front, and I would run my fingers over his yarn skeins and he would explain how difficult but rewarding knitting was.’
    • ‘I ended up needing more yarn than quoted in the pattern - nine skeins instead of eight, which is a touch critical with a yarn like that.’
    • ‘I drove to the beautiful Fisher Building in Detroit and then I counted skeins and skeins of yarn for the inventory at City Knits.’
    • ‘The folktale of a wicked man who helps a woman spin thread or straw into skeins of gold is well-known with variations around the world.’
    • ‘I left the store with a few new skeins of yarn and an entire set of round looms.’
    • ‘I still have one and a half skeins that I will dye in the near future.’
    • ‘Each skein of yarn sat neatly in its place, the loom itself dominating the room.’
    • ‘Embellished with cascades of semi-precious stones, crystal beads, dabka, and vivid skeins of fine silk thread, the focus here is on detailing and embroidery.’
    • ‘The one parcel I got from her was nice - a skein of cotton yarn, chiba needles, and some incense.’
    • ‘A woman sits on a chair and skeins of wool are pulled around her.’
    • ‘I had to choose 20 skeins of yarn and classify them.’
    • ‘Erianne frowned at the two skeins of thread in front of her, the sun beating down relentlessly on her uncovered head.’
    • ‘For the most part, the colors of the skeins are irregularly spaced, offering a kind of overall abstract composition.’
    • ‘You have a hoop, needle, iron-on transfers and skeins of embroidery floss.’
    • ‘It is impossible to knit from a skein without getting the wool in a knot.’
    • ‘I was so pleased with the Noro York sweater that I went back to the yarn store and came home with another ten skeins of Kureyon.’
    • ‘They're figures of Greek mythology, three goddesses who control the destinies of man, likened to skeins of thread that they spin, measure out and finally cut.’
    coil, length, roll, bunch, clump, loop, twist, piece
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    1. 1.1 A tangled or complicated arrangement, state, or situation.
      ‘the skeins of her long hair’
      figurative ‘a skein of lies’
      • ‘Rubble na Mickies concludes the trilogy by drawing strands from the previous novels into a tangled skein.’
      • ‘Wil's formative years are shrouded in mystery, concealed from the public by a skein of lies and deceptions so complex that it has taken more than a decade for Wheaton researchers to unravel.’
      • ‘Today the winery, owned by the large Stimson Lane firm, makes a skein of wines in several tiers.’
      • ‘Given Twelfth Night's tangled skein of interwoven plots and deluded lovers, there is plenty of comic potential.’
      • ‘There, the rivers give way to a skein of smaller rivers and enter the salt sea.’
      • ‘Caught in a skein of unresolved tensions, unspoken fear, and undefined destinations, the children adjust in their silent, obscure manner.’
      • ‘They did it by wrapping them in a skein of giant airbags.’
      • ‘Ideas and dialogues provide a skein of people and places.’
    2. 1.2 A flock of wild geese or swans in flight, typically in a V-shaped formation.
      • ‘During the short drive to Joe's favourite diner in Madrid I spotted a group of five deer, several skeins of Canada geese and a group of mallard.’
      • ‘Once, after being disturbed by a low-flying helicopter, the full skein remained airborne almost an hour before side-slipping and tumbling out of the sky.’
      • ‘Skies were clear over South Sligo and East Mayo as skeins of wild geese winged their way towards the west coast.’
      • ‘Overhead skeins of geese and small flights of duck were moving south for the winter.’
      • ‘I once stood on this spot and watched a skein of migrating geese flap their way in perfect chevron formation through the great cleft of the Lairig an Laoigh below, their wings cutting through the air with a rhythmic whoosh.’
      • ‘The blue train sped with the precision of a skein of geese in flight.’
      • ‘For the last two nights, we have had skeins of geese flying over us to get to Martin Mere.’
      • ‘A V-shaped skein passing overhead with a cacophony of honks floating down still epitomizes wildness and freedom for many people.’
      • ‘Above, the final skein of Pinkfooted Geese, over wintering from Greenland honked their noisy way to their evening roost on the sand-banks of the River Ribble.’
      flock, flying group
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Middle English: shortening of Old French escaigne, of unknown origin.