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.]

1.

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. Fairfax.

2.

Used as a symbol of the holder of a distaff; hence, a woman; women, collectively.

His crown usurped, a distaff on the throne. Dryden.

Some say the crozier, some say the distaff was too busy. Howell.

⇒ 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.

Shipley.

 

© Webster 1913.

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