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Borrowed from Old French espaigneul (modern French épagneul), from Old Occitan espaignol, from Vulgar Latin *Hispāniolus (Spanish), from Hispānia (Spain).



spaniel (plural spaniels)

  1. Any of various small to medium-sized breeds of gun dog having a broad muzzle, long, wavy fur and long ears that hang at the side of the head, bred for flushing and retrieving game.
  2. A cringing, fawning person.
    • 1595: Shakespeare, William, The Two Gentlemen of Verona Act IV, Scene II
      Proteus: Yet, spaniel-like, the more she spurns my love,/The more it grows and fawneth on her still.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Dutch: spaniël



spaniel (third-person singular simple present spaniels, present participle spanielling or spanieling, simple past and past participle spanielled or spanieled)

  1. To follow loyally or obsequiously, like a spaniel.
    • 1606: Shakespeare, William, The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
      Antony: Do we shake hands.—All come to this!—The hearts / That spaniel'd me at heels, to whom I gave / Their wishes, do discandy, melt their sweets
    • J. Sedgewick (1840) Timon, but not of Athens, page 200: “Always spanielling at the heels of power, the mitred Dignitaries displayed, from first to last, the most rancorous hostility against her.”
    • David S. Bell (2000) Presidential Power in Fifth Republic France, →ISBN, page 30: “Hence Duverger's famous question about de Gaulle's first spanielling Prime Minister makes political ('M. Debré, existe-t-il?'), but not constitutional sense.”
    • Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (2003) The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, →ISBN, page 65:
      The genre which differed from the world in order to advocate a better one - or the genre which spanielled at heel the sensationalist virtual reality world we will now arguably inhabit till the planet dies - had become by 2000, in triumpth or defeat or both, an institution for the telling of story.




spaniel m (plural spaniels)

  1. A spaniel (any of several dog breeds bred to flush out game)



spaniel m (plural spaniels or spaniel)

  1. A spaniel.



  1. A spaniel.