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Wordsmith.org Forums General Topics Q&A about words The male counterpart of distaff
OP I found this term once, but now for the life of me can't find it. It is not "Spear side" but another word that is also a term used in heraldry.
Any help would be appreciated as it is driving me quite nuts trying to remember it. (It is getting as bad as the time the Barney theme got stuck in my head at the beginning of an all day meeting.)
Dear Rouspeteur: I looked for "antonym distaff" and got this feeble jest:
What is the opposite of "distaff side"?
"Spear side", but I prefer Truly Donovan's suggestion, "datstaff side". :-)
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is from the verb to weave. (Saxon wefan, Danish vœve, German weben, whence weib, a woman,
one who works at the distaff.) Woman is called the distaff. Hence Dryden calls Anne “a distaff on
the throne.” While a girl was spinning her wedding clothes she was simply a spinster; but when this
task was done, and she was married, she became a wife, or one who had already woven her
Alfred, in his will, speaks of his male and female descendants as those of the spear-side and
those of the spindle-side, a distinction still observed by the Germans; and hence the effigies on
graves of spears and spindles.
The antonym of distaff is agnate. Had it in a crossword puzzle.
It is also in Websters 20th century dictionary, unabridged edition
actually, agnate is the more direct 'opposite' of enate. YCLIU.
Yeah. It's kinda like saying that sungates is the opposite of counterclockwise.
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