Definition of spindle in US English:



  • 1A slender rounded rod with tapered ends used in hand spinning to twist and wind thread from a mass of wool or flax held on a distaff.

    • ‘My fingers know what they must do, and I can spin the silk wisps into a fine shining strand on the crystal spindle and wind it onto the bobbins without even having to think about it.’
    • ‘In her left hand Eve holds a loop of raw fiber, and in her right, a drop spindle.’
    • ‘On the floor, youthful Mirabai Sherke fills her spindles with zari thread.’
    • ‘Silk is spooled off large reels along the top and two, four or six strands are wound together onto spindles at the bottom, making a stronger yarn.’
    • ‘Instead she walked to the large weaving chest, opened the lid, and brought forth three spindles.’
    • ‘The shepherds claimed often to see her walking above the steepest slopes at twilight, a golden spindle in her hand.’
    • ‘Once Frigga filled my hands with spindle and wool, and my mind with these Thirteen Goddesses, I've found life too full for heartbreak and illness.’
    • ‘There'll always be a huge demand here for raw wool from Australia, provided we can keep the spindles here spinning wool and keep them away from spinning synthetics.’
    • ‘The spindles grasp the fiber and selectively pull it out of the boll, leaving unwanted plant parts or trash behind.’
    • ‘Having prepared the wool or flax the women would then have spun it using a drop spindle (spinning wheels are a much later invention).’
    • ‘The ancient scenes of weaving and spinning remind me of Plato's description of ‘necessity’, where Ananke turns the spindle on which the threads of our lives are wound.’
    • ‘Burginde went to the chest and opened it, and took out the basket of spindles and shuttles on top.’
    • ‘They use spindles made of bamboo, which is something new to us.’
    • ‘The thread is twisted by attaching loose strands to the top of the spindle, then rolling the spindle along the thigh to start it spinning.’
    • ‘Instead of being wound onto spindles, the ropes of wire grass fiber were sent to looms to be tied together into matting.’
    • ‘While traveling along the Inca Road, Muller carries wool and a spindle with her.’
    1. 1.1 A pin or rod used on a spinning wheel to twist and wind the thread.
      • ‘The jenny had between six and twenty-four spindles mounted on a sliding carriage.’
      • ‘The Asoka Chakra could be viewed, imaginatively, as a spinning-wheel without the spindle and spinner.’
      • ‘There was a guy in there showing a girl how to spin yarn using a spindle.’
      • ‘By teasing the fibre out and twirling the spindle quickly the yarn is twisted together producing a thread.’
      • ‘The plan now is to get hold of some fleece or other spinnable fibre, infuse it with power from various herbs and additives, spin it into yarn using my magic spindle, then weave it into magical cloth.’
      • ‘These reels are fitted with easy grip handles, quick release spool and a stainless steel spindle.’
      • ‘Davis's are flatter, and by this point he had progressed to using bamboo-turned spindles.’
      • ‘He envisioned the same water turning tens of thousands of spindles and producing millions of yards of fabric.’
      • ‘Yet curiously - and perhaps significantly - Leonardo has neglected to wind any yarn around the spindle, so that the entire black shaft is exposed.’
      • ‘Nowhere else in India will you see spinning on single spindle charkas with 24 spokes, claims Lakshman Rao.’
      • ‘The next part, however, requires that I learn how to work a spindle and make scarlet garments for my household and purple silk tapestries for myself, not to mention selling fine linen to the local merchants.’
    2. 1.2 A pin bearing the bobbin of a spinning machine.
      • ‘Press the bobbin all the way onto the bobbin winding spindle.’
      • ‘Attention must also be made to the reels bearings in which the spindle of the spool is housed.’
      • ‘A gossamer thread issues from her enormous abdomen at a steady clip, wound by a motor onto a revolving spindle.’
      • ‘This problem was particularly acute in the textile sector where a large number of spindles were set up on the basis of suppliers' credits.’
      • ‘If I don't hold the bobbin on the spindle, it slides just far enough out that the notch slides out of place and it won't wind.’
    3. 1.3 A measure of length for yarn, equal to 15,120 yards (13,826 m) for cotton or 14,400 yards (13,167 m) for linen.
      • ‘Based on engineering specifications, the most efficient minimum production level of a spinning mill is 30,000 spindles.’
    4. 1.4 A turned piece of wood used as a banister or chair leg.
      • ‘A couple of spindles in the banister were hanging loose.’
      • ‘From hand-made Boston rockers with hand-turned spindles, designers turned to cantilevered cane-backed chairs made of tubular steel.’
      • ‘The matte finish created by the pattern and the use of wood for the seat frame and spindles further the countrified pretense of the chair.’
      • ‘The spindles of Windsor chairs support the spine and move with the sitter's changes in position.’
      • ‘The spindle was made of wood, or, sometimes bone and was weighted at the bottom with a ‘whorl’ or UFO shaped weight of clay, wood, bone, stone or metal and even amber.’
      • ‘Stair spindles and a banister had also been ripped out and used as firewood while glass carpeted the floors.’
      • ‘Its arms followed the curve of the seat, and the back had six to nine spindles or slats topped by a large crest rail.’
      • ‘His design for a spindle blade, which turns pieces of timber into the spindles that link staircase banisters to the floor, is very fast: ‘As far as I know, it's the fastest in the world.’’
      • ‘If held to shape and allowed to dry - only a few days would be necessary for thin spindles - wood will hold its shape as well as if it were steam bent.’
    5. 1.5North American A pointed metal rod on a base, used to impale paper items for temporary filing.
      • ‘The spindle had papers stuck onto it; one of them slid off and away through the air.’
      • ‘The sociologist said the spindle would align statuses since the orders will have to wait till the cook got them.’
      • ‘Keep track of all your orders with this simple wire order slip spindle.’
  • 2A rod or pin serving as an axis that revolves or on which something revolves.

    • ‘These were usually facing opposite poles and located apart from each other on a straight line parallel to the long axis of the spindle.’
    • ‘We currently use both air-bearing spindles and electric motors to rotate the disks.’
    • ‘It is used for railroad frogs, for steel mill coupling housings, pinions, spindles, and for dipper lips of power shovels operating in quarries.’
    • ‘Following the instructions that came with your pedals, remove the spindle from the pedal body.’
    • ‘The left arm is made of hollow rectangular chromoly steel tubing that tapers in size from 30 mm at the bottom bracket spindle to 21 mm at the pedal spindle.’
    • ‘Operation is convenient, with clevis hitch hookup and easy-to-adjust wheel spindles.’
    • ‘The spindles are driven by cone drive gear boxes through universal joints capable of up to 6,000 foot-pounds per spindle.’
    • ‘Golder uses felt mops, which he makes himself, on a spindle revolving at 3,000 revs, and employs pumice powder mixed with vegetable oil to polish the silver.’
    • ‘The lightest version of Time's new RXS pedal has a titanium spindle, with a claimed weight of only 195 grams per pair.’
    • ‘I have run across two opposing theories in regards to proper cleat positioning in relation to the pedal spindle.’
    • ‘When it finally released, it popped so loud I thought I must have broken the pedal spindle off.’
    • ‘It also drops the distance from the pedal spindle to the shoe sole to under 10 mm, far less than other pedal designs.’
    • ‘It is for this reason that we spot-face our cranks at the same time we drill the hole for the pedal spindle and bottom bracket axis.’
    • ‘Get someone to sit on an office chair that can turn, looking directly upward along the axis of the spindle of the chair.’
    • ‘The handles are barrel shaped, with a distinct bulge near the middle, rather than cylindrical, on both spindles.’
    • ‘This enables the ball-screw spindle to accommodate small errors in alignment with the piston, without causing the piston to be pushed sideways.’
    • ‘At least one of the spindles can slide along the common axis and squeeze the optic.’
    • ‘A compact vertical machining center with a spindle that revolves at 12,000 rpm, a spiral chip conveyor, and a machine-bed flush mechanism will be displayed at the company stand.’
    • ‘‘Their cotton-picking machines each use gallons of grease every day to lubricate their spindles,’ he says.’
    • ‘Although I'm only about 180 pounds I've had trouble with Campy cranksets and spindles breaking.’
    pivot, pin, rod, axle
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 The vertical rod at the center of a record turntable which keeps the record in place during play.
      • ‘In the early 1980s, there were definitely some breakage problems with the first titanium Super Record spindles.’
      • ‘That's the ones when they used to have the spindle that drops six records, 45s, at one time.’
  • 3Biology
    A slender mass of microtubules formed when a cell divides. At metaphase the chromosomes become attached to it by their centromeres before being pulled toward its ends.

    • ‘Kinetochore proteins bind to a microtubule spindle to keep chromosomes segregated during cell division.’
    • ‘The microtubules tie the chromosomes to the mitotic spindle during cell division.’
    • ‘The spindle assembly checkpoint pathway is necessary for high-fidelity chromosome transmission in cells in which the spindle or kinetochores are compromised in some way.’
    • ‘Metaphase spindles with replicated mitotic chromosomes were assembled in meiotic Xenopus egg extracts as described.’
    • ‘A critical step in the cell cycle is the proper attachment of chromosomes to the mitotic spindle during metaphase.’
  • 4A shrub or small tree with slender toothed leaves and pink capsules containing bright orange seeds. The hard timber was formerly used for making spindles.

    Genus Euonymus, family Celastraceae: several species, in particular the Eurasian E. europaeus

    • ‘The British native spindle bush has a highly ornamental climbing relative that produces wonderfully coloured fruits.’
    • ‘For a more formal approach to home decorating, Carter is a big fan of miniature tree-like plants such as New Zealand tea trees, winter cherries and Japanese spindle.’
    • ‘A lime tree there is already turning a beautiful bright yellow, and a large Himalayan spindle bush is taking on rich red and pink colouring.’
    • ‘The meadow is enclosed by tall hedges which are mostly quite young, but the northern section is species-rich including dogwood, field maple and spindle.’
    • ‘Look out for species such as crab-apple, spindle and hazel.’


[with object]
  • Impale (a piece of paper) on a metal spindle for temporary filing purposes.

    ‘do not fold, spindle, or mutilate’
    • ‘Suddenly the grandiose plans, which had flowed from those expected winnings, were crumpled, spindled, and shredded.’
    • ‘Scrounging some more, he pulls out a filthy plastic bowl brimming with photos he's layered, pierced, folded, spindled and mutilated.’
    • ‘OK, although I would agree with Rich that if the ratings suddenly tank, the media may find themselves fascinated by some juicier scandals that don't just have to do with the spindling and mutilating of ballots.’
    • ‘Any and all queries shall be folded, spindled, and mutilated, in that order.’


Old English spinel, from the base of the verb spin.