Recently Shared:

That Old Maid was a “Spinster” – a simple Legal Term

If we didn’t have enough examples of how words change meaning according to the climate of society as time changes, here’s another.


Today the word has somewhat of a derogatory meaning, however, the word was simply a legal term, used on legal documents that described marital status.

The term “spinster” has a long and complex history that dates back to medieval times. Originally, the term referred to women who spun thread or yarn for a living. However, in the 17th century, the term began to be used as a legal term to describe unmarried women who were past the age of marriage.

In England, the term “spinster” was used on legal documents to describe women who were unmarried and financially independent. This was important because at the time, women who were married were considered to be the property of their husbands, and had no legal rights of their own. Unmarried women, on the other hand, had the right to own property and make contracts in their own name.

During the industrial age, the term “spinster” took on a new meaning. Women who were unmarried and working in factories were often referred to as “spinsters,” regardless of whether or not they actually spun thread. This was partly because factory work was seen as being similar to the work of a spinner, and partly because unmarried women were seen as being more likely to work outside the home.

Today, the term “spinster” has come to have a somewhat derogatory meaning. It is often used to describe women who are unmarried and past a certain age, and is sometimes used to suggest that such women are undesirable or unwanted. This usage is seen by many as being unfair and sexist, as it reinforces the idea that a woman’s worth is tied to her marital status.

So, let’s Change the Meaning of a Word Once Again

In recent years, there have been efforts to reclaim the term “spinster” and give it a more positive connotation. Some feminists have argued that the term can be used to describe women who are independent, self-sufficient, and unafraid to live life on their own terms.

Others have suggested that the term can be used to describe women who are dedicated to their work or hobbies, and who prioritize their own goals and aspirations over traditional ideas of femininity.

Overall, the history of the term “spinster” is a complex and fascinating one. From its origins as a legal term to its usage in the industrial age and beyond, the term has evolved over time to reflect changing attitudes towards women and their place in society. While the term has taken on a somewhat negative connotation in modern times, there are those who argue that it can be reclaimed and used in a more positive and empowering way.

Share This: