"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 15 March 2010


A distaff was the staff on which wool or flax was wound before spinning. As spinning was women's work, the word came to mean the sphere of work by women; female: characteristic of or peculiar to a woman. It is nowadays sometimes used to refer to the distaff side of the family - meaning the line that comes down through (or goes back through) the women of the family.

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