- 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 of distaffMiddle English distaf ; from Old English distæf ; from dis-, flax (see dizen) + stæf, staff
- 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.
- Of or relating to women and girls; female.
- Relating to or being the female line or maternal branch of a family.
Origin of distaffMiddle English distaf, from Old English distæf : dis-, bunch of flax; akin to Middle Dutch disen, to prepare a distaff with flax; see dizen + stæf, staff.
distaff with unspun wool and spindle with spun wool
- a device to which a bundle of natural fibres (often wool, flax, or cotton) are attached for temporary storage, before being drawn off gradually to spin thread. A traditional distaff is a staff with flax fibres tied loosely to it (see Etymology), but modern distaffs are often made of cords weighted with beads, and attached to the wrist.
- the part of a spinning wheel from which fibre is drawn to be spun
- anything traditionally done by or considered of importance to women only
- a woman, or women considered as a group
- of, relating to, or characteristic of women
- referring to the maternal side of a family
From Middle English distaf, from Old English distæf (“distaff”), from Old English *dis (cognate with Middle Low German dise (“bunch of flax”)) + Old English stæf (“staff”).