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The word distaff is an interesting one, and is confusing to many people. We will examine the definition of distaff, where this word came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The first and original definition of the word distaff is a spindle used in spinning. A distaff is the stick on which the wool is wound in order to be spun. Distaff may also mean a woman’s sphere of influence or the female side of the family. This is because spinning was at one time women’s work, and the distaff associated with spinning became associated solely with women. This use of the word distaff to mean woman dates back at least to the 1300s. Today, the word distaff is used in horse racing to mean a class of race that consists of only female horses.


Alas, this distaff revamp of the popular Ocean’s franchise, despite having some weapons-grade girl power (and fabulous fashion), is not one of those films. (The Times)

The expected speed duel between Adore and the winner of the Louisiana Legends Distaff, Mr. Al’s Gal, developed right away and those two battled through a quarter-mile of 24.55 seconds and a half-mile of 48 seconds flat. (The Daily World)

This will certainly be true if other large-scale enterprises follow the example of Israel Aerospace Industries, which is recruiting future hi-tech engineers, innovators and programmers on the distaff side, while they are still in high school. (The Jerusalem Post)

They will include beginning spinning, blending alpaca on the drum carder, characteristics of fiber: evaluating your fleece, crocheting 101, crocheting: corner to corner, designing and knitting irregular triangular shawls, drop spindling, dyeing yarn to make a more unique product, five things needed to know to make the best yarn, intermediate spinning, knitting chemo patient hats, knitting with different yarn weights, no fear fleece skirting, orchil dyes from lichens, sorting and grading: what, why and how, the distaff: spindle spinning with comfort and control, understanding suri fiber and weaving: rigid heddle. (The Lebanon Democrat)