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See also: Spur, špur, and șpur


Western-style cowboy spurs.


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English spure, spore, from Old English spura, spora, from Proto-Germanic *spurô, from Proto-Indo-European *sper-, *sperw- (to twitch, push, fidget, be quick).


spur (plural spurs)

  1. A rigid implement, often roughly y-shaped, that is fixed to one's heel for the 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.
  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.
  15. (mining) A branch of a vein.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


spur (third-person singular simple present spurs, present participle spurring, simple past and past participle spurred)

  1. To prod (especially a horse) on 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...
    • 2014 November 17, Roger Cohen, “The horror! The horror! The trauma of ISIS [print version: International New York Times, 18 November 2014, p. 9]”, in The New York Times[1]:
      What is unbearable, in fact, is the feeling, 13 years after 9/11, that America has been chasing its tail; that, in some whack-a-mole horror show, the quashing of a jihadi enclave here only spurs the sprouting of another there; that the ideology of Al Qaeda is still reverberating through a blocked Arab world whose Sunni-Shia balance (insofar as that went) was upended by the American invasion of Iraq.
  3. To put spurs on
    to spur boots
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

See sparrow.


spur (plural spurs)

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

Etymology 3[edit]

Short for spurious.


spur (plural spurs)

  1. (electronics) A spurious tone, one that interferes with a signal in a circuit and is often masked underneath that signal.

Etymology 4[edit]


spur (plural spurs)

  1. The track of an animal, such as an otter; a spoor.