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Western-style cowboy spurs


Etymology 1[edit]

Old English spora.


spur (plural spurs)

  1. A rigid implement, often roughly y-shaped, that is fixed to one's heel for purpose of prodding a horse. Often worn by, and emblematic of, the cowboy or the knight.
    • 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Scene VI, line 4:
      Lives he, good uncle? thrice within this hour I saw him down; thrice up again, and fighting; From helmet to the spur all blood he was.
    • 1786, Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, page 22:
      Two sorts of spurs seem to have been in use about the time of the Conquest, one called a pryck, having only a single point like the gaffle of a fighting cock; the other consisting of a number of points of considerable length, radiating from and revolving on a center, thence named the rouelle or wheel spur.
  2. Anything that inspires or motivates, as a spur does to a horse.
    • 1601, William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene II, line 198.
      But, worthy Hector, She is a theme of honour and renown, A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds...
  3. An appendage or spike pointing rearward, near the foot, for instance that of a rooster.
  4. Any protruding part connected at one end, for instance a highway that extends from another highway into a city.
  5. Roots, tree roots.
    • 1609, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act IV, Scene II, line 57:
      I do note / That grief and patience, rooted in them both, / Mingle their spurs together.
    • 1610, The Tempest, by Shakespeare, act 5 scene 1
      [...] the strong-bas'd promontory
      Have I made shake; and by the spurs pluck'd up
      The pine and cedar []
  6. A mountain that shoots from another mountain or range and extends some distance in a lateral direction, or at right angles.
  7. A spiked iron worn by seamen upon the bottom of the boot, to enable them to stand upon the carcass of a whale to strip off the blubber.
  8. (carpentry) A brace strengthening a post and some connected part, such as a rafter or crossbeam; a strut.
  9. (architecture) The short wooden buttress of a post.
  10. (architecture) A projection from the round base of a column, occupying the angle of a square plinth upon which the base rests, or bringing the bottom bed of the base to a nearly square form. It is generally carved in leafage.
  11. Ergotized rye or other grain.
  12. A wall in a fortification that crosses a part of a rampart and joins to an inner wall.
  13. (shipbuilding) A piece of timber fixed on the bilgeways before launching, having the upper ends bolted to the vessel's side.
  14. (shipbuilding) A curved piece of timber serving as a half to support the deck where a whole beam cannot be placed.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
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spur (third-person singular simple present spurs, present participle spurring, simple past and past participle spurred)

  1. To prod (especially a horse) in the side or flank, with the intent to urge motion or haste, to gig.
    • 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act V, Scene III, line 339:
      Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head! Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood; Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!
  2. To urge or encourage to action, or to a more vigorous pursuit of an object; to incite; to stimulate; to instigate; to impel; to drive.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act III, Scene IV, line 4.
      My desire / (More sharp than filed steel) did spur me forth...
  3. To put spurs on; as, a spurred boot.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

See sparrow.


spur (plural spurs)

  1. (Scotland) A sparrow.
  2. A tern.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.