Definition of spur in US English:

spur

noun

  • 1A device with a small spike or a spiked wheel that is worn on a rider's heel and used for urging a horse forward.

    • ‘Make sure your personal equipment, including boots and spurs, has been worn prior to the show.’
    • ‘Jacobs said he used the spurs to control the horse and that any force he used was to control the horse and keep himself out of danger.’
    • ‘The youngest was only 4, but his stirrups are cinched up to accommodate his little legs and there are spurs on the heels of his boots.’
    • ‘He shook his head to dismiss the troublesome thoughts, and dug his spurs into the flanks of the horse.’
    • ‘The riders will be dressed in their Army Dress Blue uniform with riding breeches, boots and their silver spurs.’
    1. 1.1 A hard spike on the back of the leg of a rooster or male game bird, used in fighting.
      • ‘Their well-feathered shanks had razor sharp spurs protruding ominously, and the feet were also covered in dense, thick feathers to protect the skin from the brutal cold.’
    2. 1.2 A steel point fastened to the leg of a gamecock.
      • ‘Cocks have metal spurs attached to the leg just above the foot.’
      • ‘The bird puffs out his chest, the glint of steel spurs curving inwards and upwards on the back of his legs.’
      • ‘Nowadays few people enjoy watching two cocks fitted with sharp spurs slash at each other until one is dead or dying.’
  • 2A thing that prompts or encourages someone; an incentive.

    ‘profit was both the spur and the reward of enterprise’
    • ‘Another spur to expeditions from the 1790s was the desire of British Protestant churches to evangelize overseas.’
    • ‘Anger can be channeled as a spur to action rather than being destructive. But Mars at its best is purposeful, an achiever and self-starter, and a force to be reckoned with.’
    • ‘The conservationist-author points out that the urge to find, dam, and channel water is one of the earliest spurs to technological advance.’
    • ‘For example, proximity to one's home and community may act as a spur to some to fight harder.’
    • ‘Perhaps genius - even the illusion of genius - is a spur that throws us forward.’
    • ‘They have been cited as a spur to a recovery in business confidence, though the evidence of this is not clear-cut and, in the case of Japan, flatly contradictory.’
    • ‘Inequality is natural, inevitable and may even be a good thing - a spur to ambition, competition and achievement.’
    • ‘For those not yet at the repayment date this could be a spur to reconsider their mortgages.’
    • ‘Everyone knows that competition can be both healthy (acting as a spur to progress) or negative, which is hurtful as well as wasteful.’
    • ‘For those of our readers who specialize in this subject, this should serve both as an expert review and a spur to fresh thinking.’
    • ‘Hilbert's problems were a spur to some of the most productive mathematical research of the 20th century.’
    • ‘It provides a lot of very smart and/or politically important people with a spur to help the campaign as much as possible.’
    • ‘Her experience on the show acted as a spur to her ambition and she flew to California with £750 in her pocket.’
    • ‘Any player averaging a hat-trick per game over an entire season is clearly not lacking talent, but Ross claims that enthusiasm is his main spur.’
    • ‘Openness to trade acts as a spur to efficiency, innovation, and international competitiveness generally.’
    • ‘Robert Koch was getting a great deal of attention throughout Europe for his discoveries and the French versus German rivalry that occurred provided a great spur to medical advances.’
    • ‘To some extent, this has undoubtedly acted as a spur to research, but I believe that it distorts more than it reveals, and that all ultimately lose by the process.’
    • ‘‘I hope this report is not put back on a shelf but acts as a spur to provide treatment facilities and resources to tackle the issue,’ he said.’
    • ‘That will give a spur to additional investment and, therefore, to additional productivity.’
    • ‘Their continuing presence is a spur to violence.’
    stimulus, incentive, encouragement, stimulant, stimulation, inducement, impetus, prod, prompt
    View synonyms
  • 3A projection from a mountain or mountain range.

    • ‘Built on a wooded spur above the town, the chapel is visible from almost six miles (ten kilometers) away.’
    • ‘It took them a week to reach the eastern spur of the Waiongona Gorge, near the present Mountain House, the last camp before the summit attempt.’
    • ‘The hilltop spur has stunning views across the Severn valley.’
    • ‘This is a very pleasant descent down a tributary valley with the distinctive spur known as the Tongue prominent on the opposite side of the stream.’
    • ‘The terrain between the spur of the mountain range and the sea is flat and thickly forested.’
    1. 3.1 A short branch road or rail line.
      • ‘The work will also include a spur road into the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow.’
      • ‘At the airport, a system of rail spurs would connect aviation-related businesses, warehouses and cargo storage areas.’
      • ‘Scores of business premises will be bulldozed to make way for the final section of the northern spur of Sheffield's inner ring road.’
      • ‘However, planners were reluctant to commit to having a rail spur open by late 2010.’
      • ‘The main spine would run between the existing and heavily-used west coast and east coast lines, with spurs to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.’
    2. 3.2Botany A slender tubular projection from the base of a flower, e.g. a honeysuckle or orchid, typically containing nectar.
      • ‘Instead, longer spurs only seem to be an advantage when long-tongued insects are the sole pollinators.’
      • ‘Some have large flowers with longer spurs, while others have smaller double flowers with short spurs, or no spurs at all.’
      • ‘During visits to flowers in which the corolla spur was removed, males directed their glossa to the tips of the connective appendages, making it clear that their search was for nectar.’
      • ‘Yet short floral spurs are not necessarily a reproductive disadvantage.’
      • ‘Most columbine flowers have backward-projecting spurs that contain rich nectar that can only be reached by hummingbirds.’
    3. 3.3 A short fruit-bearing side shoot.
      • ‘The spurs produce blossoms and fruit year after year, and should be saved wherever possible.’
      • ‘Check all your climbers have enough support and tie in new spurs and shoots before they get snapped in the wind.’
      • ‘Even those small, fruiting spurs on apple and pear trees eventually need pruning for rejuvenation and to eliminate overcrowding.’
      • ‘Apple trees, at the other extreme, produce fruit on long-lived, very short, knobby branches, called spurs, so they need little such stimulus.’
      • ‘For apples and Japanese plums, thin to one fruit per cluster, and be careful to not damage long-lived fruiting spurs.’
    4. 3.4Medicine A short pointed growth or process on a part of the body.
      • ‘In this type of procedure, resection of a calcaneal spur is generally not performed.’
      • ‘During interposition arthroplasty, your surgeon removes any bone spurs or loose pieces of bone.’
      • ‘New spurs of bone often develop at the margins of the affected joints.’
      • ‘The presence of calcaneal bone spurs on plain radiographs has no value in making or excluding the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis.’
      • ‘Damaged, exposed bone forms spurs that interfere with movement.’
      projection, spike
      View synonyms

verb

[with object]
  • 1Urge (a horse) forward by digging one's spurs into its sides.

    ‘she spurred her horse towards the hedge’
    • ‘He gestured with his torch, and spurred his horse forward.’
    • ‘As he spurred his horse forward to catch up with his brothers, Ben said a silent prayer that his words would prove to be true.’
    • ‘Gregor mutters a few more obscenities and turned back in his saddle before spurring his horse forward.’
    • ‘‘Follow my lead,’ Doran shouted, spurring his horse forward with his heels.’
    • ‘Indignant, she turned away, but he evidently took this as a sign of encouragement and spurred his horse forward to ride by her side.’
    • ‘With this, they spurred their horses on again and continued towards their destination.’
    • ‘He shot her a grin before spurring his horse forward.’
    • ‘Diana took a deep breath and spurred her horse towards the cave.’
    • ‘All three spurred their horses forward at the same time.’
    • ‘The hero tips his hat to the ladies, spurs his horse and gallops off toward the setting sun in a cloud of dust.’
    • ‘She wheeled her horse around, and spurred the stallion into a gallop.’
    • ‘Jack let out a loud whoop as he spurred his horse on.’
    • ‘He yelled and they set off, spurring their horses into a gallop.’
    • ‘He spurred the horse into a fast trot.’
    • ‘Maddock shouted, spurring his horse forward into the melee.’
    • ‘She looks away and gently spurs her horse back into a slow walk.’
    • ‘With that, they spurred their horses out of the stables and into the dark night…’
    • ‘He pulled himself up behind her and she spurred the horse into a gallop.’
    • ‘Uncle Howard spurred his horse into a trot, and Thomas and I followed.’
    • ‘Then he leapt into the saddle and spurred the horse to a gallop, and with a wave of his hand, he was gone.’
    impel, spur on, force, drive, coerce, goad
    View synonyms
  • 2Give an incentive or encouragement to (someone)

    ‘her sons' passion for computer games spurred her on to set up a software business’
    • ‘I think it is always very touching when your efforts are praised, even in small ways, and it spurs you on to do more good work.’
    • ‘He said: ‘The article really brought home how these people suffer and it spurred me on.’’
    • ‘We hope the Yorkshire Bank-sponsored grants of up to £1,000 per school will spur people on to continue what we have started - because there is no room for complacency.’
    • ‘It was this desire for excitement that spurred Kevin to leave his job as an accountant after three years to become a professional actor.’
    • ‘Encouraging feedback from reviewers and reading groups is spurring Chris on.’
    • ‘Last year's disappointment at failing to reach the final of the 400m has spurred him to greater effort.’
    • ‘However, the reward of seeing the mighty Everest from Kala Pattar - a 5,545 metre adjacent peak - was incentive enough to spur us on.’
    • ‘The incident spurs Ben to become a doctor and an all-around humanitarian.’
    • ‘She said it was the very happiness and stability of her upbringing that spurred her to investigate her personal history.’
    • ‘‘The new rules are designed to spur people into putting more into their pension pot,’ Holt adds.’
    • ‘When I arrived here I found two men who were not just great coaches, they were also good at spurring me on.’
    • ‘She and her husband are keen travellers and the chance of winning a holiday in the competition is spurring her on to win.’
    • ‘Three years later she received the devastating news that she had leukaemia but instead of letting her condition rule her life, she was spurred into action to help other sufferers by raising vital funds.’
    • ‘‘You watch them, their artistry, their special qualities and it really spurs you on to find something like that in yourself,’ she says.’
    • ‘He said that what spurred him to become involved in fund-raising for the Heart Foundation was attending the funeral three years ago of a friend who died of a heart attack as a young man.’
    • ‘The plight of a York woman's friend is spurring her on to run the London Marathon for the first time - and hopefully raise hundreds of pounds.’
    • ‘Each year millions of smokers attempt to quit en masse, spurred on by the annual health awareness campaign.’
    • ‘To their credit, many in the neighborhood, both black and white, were spurred to action.’
    • ‘The fact that her second chance was costing her parents money spurred her on.’
    • ‘‘To receive a pledge of this magnitude spurs us on to secure the remaining £20,000,’ said head teacher Alan Davis.’
    motivate, inspire, stimulate, encourage, spur on, galvanize, arouse, rouse, excite, stir, stir up, fire, fire with enthusiasm, make enthusiastic, fire the imagination of
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Promote the development of; stimulate.
      ‘governments cut interest rates to spur demand’
      • ‘It is hoped that the bank will cut its interest rates to spur growth when its council next meets on Thursday.’
      • ‘Once that happens, their spending could help spur reasonable growth in the economy.’
      • ‘Officials hope it will spur the development of the corporate bond market in Hong Kong, boosting the city's role as a regional financial centre.’
      • ‘One difficulty is that improvements in technology spur improvements in armaments.’
      • ‘Growth is picking up around the world as countries slash taxes and cut rates to spur demand’
      • ‘Nor have lower interest rates spurred corporations to invest in new projects.’
      • ‘Computer makers hope that, along with reasonable prices, this will spur demand.’
      • ‘The government says the tax cuts are needed to spur a stagnant economy.’
      • ‘These trends have revived old debates and spurred new research.’
      • ‘Nothing spurs forward progress in research like competition.’
      • ‘The effects of the steroid was to quadruple testosterone levels in the body which helped spur dramatic muscle growth, essential for swimming.’
      • ‘Depression makes existing heart disease especially deadly; it also actually spurs the development of coronary artery disease.’
      • ‘Competition between two national political parties beginning in 1828 spurred the development of new, partisan newspapers.’
      • ‘The company hopes new discounts and promotions will spur demand in the second and third quarters.’
      • ‘A rise in gas prices will spur development of alternative energy sources.’
      • ‘While the process of globalization and the drive to open markets has spurred growth and development in parts of the world, it has also exacerbated existing problems.’
      • ‘He said the nation needed foreign investors who would help spur economic development.’
      • ‘Although she did not found the hospice movement, her work spurred its development.’
      • ‘Barnes explains that the summer heat warms the ocean's surface and spurs evaporation.’
      • ‘The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s also spurred growth.’
      stimulate, give the incentive to, act as a incentive to, act as a stimulus to, encourage, prompt, propel, prod, induce, impel, motivate, move, galvanize, inspire, urge, drive, egg on, stir
      View synonyms
  • 3Prune in (a side shoot of a plant) so as to form a spur close to the stem.

    ‘spur back the lateral shoots’

Phrases

  • on the spur of the moment

    • On impulse; without planning in advance.

      ‘I don't generally do things on the spur of the moment’
      as modifier ‘a spur-of-the-moment decision’
      • ‘I'm not an impulsive person, I don't generally do things on the spur of the moment.’
      • ‘I think he just said that on the spur of the moment.’
      • ‘I chose to come almost on the spur of the moment, and have spent the last couple of evenings mingling with the loveliest of people.’
      • ‘He wrote on the spur of the moment and perhaps without giving the subject the careful thought it deserved.’
      • ‘I never thought I was one for routine. I had always pictured myself as someone who liked the adventure of doing things on the spur of the moment.’
      • ‘A great idea I think, is an evening away, on the spur of the moment.’
      • ‘I didn't plan it, I just did it on the spur of the moment, got in my car and started driving with my daughter.’
      • ‘That was an example of the kind of thing Ross would do on the spur of the moment: just invite someone along to join the band without consulting the rest of us.’
      • ‘The couple, who are both retired, had decided to go on holiday on the spur of the moment to take advantage of the good weather.’
      • ‘This was not a decision taken lightly or on the spur of the moment.’
      impulsively, on impulse, impetuously, without thinking, without planning, without premeditation, unpremeditatedly, impromptu, spontaneously, on the spot
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English spora, spura, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch spoor and German Sporn, also to spurn.

Pronunciation

spur

/spər//spər/