Definition of distaff noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˈdɪstɑːf//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈdɪstæf//
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  • a stick that was used in the past for holding wool when it was spun by hand
  • Word OriginOld English distæf: the first element is apparently related to Middle Low German dise, disene ‘distaff, bunch of flax’; the second is staff. The sense ‘concerning women’ arose because spinning was traditionally done by women.Idioms (old-fashioned) on the woman’s side of the family
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: distaff