Word of the Day: spur

Word of the Day
April 8, 2016
spur (noun, verb)
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A spur on a cowboy boot
A spur is a U-shaped device with a spike that is attached to the heel of boots and that was originally used to encourage horses to move faster. Figuratively, a spur is something that urges someone to action. In anatomy, a spur is a small bony growth on any part of the body. A spur is also a short road that leads away from a main one. As a verb, to spur means 'to touch a horse with a spur' or 'to urge someone to take action.'

 

Example sentences
 
With a touch of the spurs, the rider urged her horse to go faster.
Tom's friends didn't believe he could succeed, which only acted as a spur to his ambition.
The X-ray showed several spurs growing on the bone.
The main road continued south, but a spur led south west.
The knight spurred his horse forward.
Her boyfriend's unkind comments spurred Jessica to leave him.

 

Multi-word forms
 
on the spur of the moment: to do something suddenly, without planning, on impulse. Example: "On the spur of the moment, we decided to go to New York for the weekend."
win your spurs: originally this meant 'to gain a knighthood through an act of courage' and now it is used figuratively to mean 'to achieve distinction' or 'to become worthy.' Example: "The famous movie actor won his spurs performing in low-budget independent films."
 
Did you know?
 
You may have heard the expression "hang up your spurs" in cowboy movies. Originally, this meant a cowboy would no longer go out and do the hard physical work (so he wouldn't need his spurs for riding anymore). Now, the expression is used figuratively to mean 'to retire,' from any field of work. Example: "The boss will be hanging up her spurs at the end of the year. I wonder who is going to replace her."
 
Other forms
 
spurrer (noun), spurless (adjective), spurlike (adjective)
 
Origin
 
Spur dates back to before 900; the noun comes from the Middle English word spure and the Old English word spura. It is a cognate with the Old High German word sporo and the Old Norse word spori, meaning 'spur'; it is akin to spurn. The verb comes from the Middle English word spuren, which is a derivative of the noun.
 
 
 
 
 
Spur in other languages
 
 
 
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