distaff definition by Webster's New World
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- a staff on which fibers, as flax or wool, are wound before being spun into thread
- woman's work or concerns
- Archaic woman, or women in general
Origin: Middle English distaf ; from Old English distæf ; from dis-, flax (see dizen) plush stæf, staff
female; specif., designating the maternal side of a family
distaff definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- a. A staff that holds on its cleft end the unspun flax, wool, or tow from which thread is drawn in spinning by hand.b. An attachment for a spinning wheel that serves this purpose.
- Work and concerns traditionally considered important to women.
- Women considered as a group.
Origin: Middle English distaf, from Old English distǽf : dis-, bunch of flax + stǽf, staff.