Dis"taff (?), n.; pl. Distaffs (#), rarely Distaves (#). [OE. distaf, dysestafe, AS. distaef; cf. LG. diesse the bunch of flax on a distaff, and E. dizen. See Staff.]
The staff for holding a bunch of flax, tow, or wool, from which the thread is drawn in spinning by hand.
I will the distaff hold; come thou and spin.
Used as a symbol of the holder of a distaff; hence, a woman; women, collectively.
His crown usurped, a distaff on the throne.
Some say the crozier, some say the distaff was too busy.
⇒ The plural is regular, but Distaves occurs in Beaumont & Fletcher.
Descent by distaff, descent on the mother's side. -- Distaff Day, ∨ Distaff's Day, the morrow of the Epiphany, that is, January 7, because working at the distaff was then resumed, after the Christmas festival; -- called also Rock Day, a distaff being called a rock.
© Webster 1913.