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From Old English þrostle, from Proto-Germanic *þrustlō, possibly altered from or a diminutive of *þurstaz. Cognate with German Drossel, Old Saxon throsla, Old High German droscala. [1]

The spinning machine is named for the songbird, from the sound made when it is working.


throstle (plural throstles)

  1. A song thrush.
    • 1804, Anthony Florian Madinger Willich, James Mease, The Domestic Encyclopaedia: or, A Dictionary of Facts and Useful Knowledge, page 115,
      The throstle is by some believed to be the finest singing bird in Britain, on account of the sweetness, variety, and continuance of its melody.
  2. A machine for spinning wool, cotton, etc., from the rove, consisting of a set of drawing rollers with bobbins and flyers, and differing from the mule in having the twisting apparatus stationary and the processes continuous; -- so called because it makes a singing noise.
    • 1836, James Montgomery, The Theory and Practice of Cotton Spinning, or, The Carding and Spinning Master’s Assistant[1], page 223:
      A Throstle under the above title has been recently introduced from America, the principal novel feature of which, is a substitute for the flyer and heavy spindle of the common throstle, and for the cone or cape, and the barrel tube of the Danforth throstle.



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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for throstle in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)