(?), 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.
[1913 Webster]

I will the distaff hold; come thou and spin.
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2. Used as a symbol of the holder of a distaff; hence, a woman; women, collectively.
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His crown usurped, a distaff on the throne.
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Some say the crozier, some say the distaff was too busy.
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The plural is regular, but Distaves occurs in Beaumont & Fletcher.
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Descent by distaff, descent on the mother's side. -- Distaff Day, or 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.
[1913 Webster]


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