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Distaff

adjective
1.
Characteristic of or peculiar to a woman.  Synonym: female.  "Female suffrage"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Distaff" Quotes from Famous Books



... Then let there follow Omphale, daughter to the king of Lydia, having a club in her hand, and a lion's skin on her back, Hercules following with a distaff. Then let Omphale turn about, and taking off her pantole, strike Hercules on the head; then let them depart, Ate ...
— 2. Mucedorus • William Shakespeare [Apocrypha]

... Street Ward contains Bread Street, Friday Street, Distaff Lane, Basing Lane, part of the Old Change, part of Watling Street, part of Old Fish Street, and Trinity Lane, and part ...
— London in 1731 • Don Manoel Gonzales

... woodblock engravings some curious illustrations are met with showing Englishwomen using the distaff. St. Distaff's Day was formerly the 7th of January, for it was then that the women resumed work after the Christmas festivities were over. The distaff and the spindle belonged to an age little understood now, and the occupations of the women of that ...
— Chats on Household Curios • Fred W. Burgess

... meal for their dinner with a quern, consisting of two diminutive millstones turned by the hand; this was placed upon a praskeen, or coarse apron, spread under it on the floor to receive the meal. An old woman, her mother, sat spinning flax with the distaff—for as yet flax wheels were scarcely known—and a lubberly young fellow about sixteen, with able, well shaped limbs and great promise of bodily strength, sat before the fire managing a double task, to wit, roasting, first, a lot of potatoes in the greeshaugh, which consisted of ...
— The Evil Eye; Or, The Black Spector - The Works of William Carleton, Volume One • William Carleton

... Syrian faces were mellowed by the ruddy gleams of sunset. A tame kid was gambolling behind them, and two women were grinding corn, with the millstone between them. On the flat white roof of the house, another woman had just laid aside her distaff in a hurry. The father's arms with their gold bracelets were clasping the gaunt, sharp shoulders of ...
— Doctor Luttrell's First Patient • Rosa Nouchette Carey

... from his old grandmother, who died the year before the famine. She used to sit in the open air knitting, or spinning with a distaff, and the scarlet yarn that trailed across the gray jacket and green petticoat glowed in the sun like a thread of crawling fire, and seemed to keep time to her droning voice, as she poured story ...
— Our Young Folks—Vol. I, No. II, February 1865 - An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls • Various

... pussy was induced to dance after a string dangled before her, to roll over and play in apparent ecstasy with a flake of wool, as if it were a mouse, and Watch joined in the game in full amity. Mother Dolly, busy with her distaff, looked on, not displeased, except when she had to guard her spindle from the kitten's pranks, but she was less happy when the children began ...
— The Herd Boy and His Hermit • Charlotte M. Yonge

... that ground that he looks to inherit. He is Nephew of old Anton Ulrich, Son of a younger Brother (who was also "Bevern" in Anton's time); and is the evident Heir-male; old Anton being already fallen into the distaff, with nothing but three Grand-daughters. Anton's heir will now be this Nephew; Nephew has wedded one of the Grand-daughters, youngest of the Three, youngest Daughter of Ludwig Rudolf, Sovereign Duke ...
— History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Vol. IX. (of XXI.) • Thomas Carlyle

... manner, is a picture by a Florentine, whose mind I would fain have you know somewhat, as well as Carpaccio's—Sandro Botticelli—the girl who is to be the wife of Moses, when he first sees her at the desert well, has fruit in her left hand, but a distaff in her right.[2] ...
— Great Pictures, As Seen and Described by Famous Writers • Esther Singleton

... tell by me, their herald, coming things, And what each Fate to her stern distaff ...
— Notes & Queries, No. 38, Saturday, July 20, 1850 • Various

... the wonderful rock-cut tombs at Beni-Hassan, in Egypt,—2800-2600 B.C.,—there are pictures of weavers at work. In one, women are filling a distaff with cotton, twisting it with a spindle into thread, and weaving this on an upright loom. Beside them is a man, evidently an overseer, watching the weavers and their work. The other wall-painting represents a ...
— Rugs: Oriental and Occidental, Antique & Modern - A Handbook for Ready Reference • Rosa Belle Holt

... by gout and so his affairs were managed by Madame de Certain, an admirable woman, who came from the noble family of de Verdal, who claim to have Saint Roch amongst the kinsfolk of their ancestors on the distaff side, a Verdal, so they say, having married a sister of the Saint at Montpellier. I do not know how much truth there is in this claim, but before the Revolution of 1789, there was, at the gateway of the old chteau of Gruniac, ...
— The Memoirs of General the Baron de Marbot, Translated by - Oliver C. Colt • Baron de Marbot

... highest dwellings. At the door of one of these huts, an old motherly-looking woman sat, spinning cotton; I made signs to her that I was hungry, and inquired if she had any victuals with her in the hut. She immediately laid down her distaff, and desired me, in Arabic, to come in. When I had seated myself upon the floor, she set before me a dish of kouskous, that had been left the preceding night, of which I made a tolerable meal; and in return for this kindness I gave her one of my pocket-handkerchiefs, begging at the same time a little ...
— Life and Travels of Mungo Park in Central Africa • Mungo Park

... when I exclaimed impatiently, "It will not do!"—"So much the better," said the dear girl in a grave tone: "I wished that it might not do! You should not meddle in such matters." She arose from the distaff, and, stepping towards the table, gave me a severe lecture, with a great deal of good sense and kindliness. "The thing seems an innocent jest: it is a jest, but it is not innocent. I have already lived to see several cases, in which our young people, for the sake of such mere mischief, have ...
— Autobiography • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

... little addition to her growing family, whilst toddlers of any age from two to seven, unkempt but bright-eyed and engaging, play around the door-step, watched over by their grandmother, or may be their great-grandam, who with her wizened face enfolded in her yellow kerchief, her skinny neck, and her distaff in the bony fingers, looks as if she had stepped out of some Renaissance painting of the Three Fates in a Florentine gallery. Crimson carnations in earthenware pots stand on the steps of the outside staircase, giving ...
— The Naples Riviera • Herbert M. Vaughan

... sat weaving, in and out, in and out, she was a twentieth century version of any one of the Fates, with the Klinger darner and mender substituted for distaff and spindle. There was something almost humanly intelligent in the workings of Martha's machine. Under its glittering needle she would shove a sock whose heel bore a great, jagged, gaping wound. Your home darner, ...
— Defenders of Democracy • Militia of Mercy

... False coward, wreak thy wif; By corpus domini, I will have thy knife, And thou shalt have my distaff ...
— English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History - Designed as a Manual of Instruction • Henry Coppee

... and trimmed, Agnes took it on her arm. Elsie raised and poised on her head the great square basket that contained her merchandise, and began walking erect and straight down the narrow rocky stairs that led into the gorge, holding her distaff with its white flax in her hands, and stepping as easily as if ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 7, No. 44, June, 1861 • Various

... while I was looking down at the ground, and knew that his very look desecrated me like the rain that washed all the blossoms off the young vine-shoots last year. It was just as if he were drawing a net round my heart—but, oh! what a net! It was as if the flax on a distaff had been set on fire, and the flames spun out into thin threads, and the meshes knotted of the fiery yarn. I felt every thread and knot burning into my soul, and could not cast it off nor even defend myself. ...
— Uarda • Georg Ebers

... the side of the bed. A distaff was leaning against the wall, And Mr. King, with arms at length, Gave it a swing, with all his strength, And crashed it full at the villain's head, And dropped him, pistols and daggers and all. Then sword in hand, he raged through the door, ...
— Successful Recitations • Various

... came in to light the lamp, which she placed on a square table in front of the fire; then she fetched her distaff, her ball of thread, and a small stool, on which she seated herself in the recess of a window and began as usual to spin. Gasselin was still busy about the offices; he looked to the horses of the baron and Calyste, saw that the stable was in order for the night, and gave the ...
— Beatrix • Honore de Balzac

... appreciated by all classes. There are wandering minstrels who gain their livelihood by going from house to house to recite the stories in prose and poetry which they have learned by heart. Spindle and distaff are used in spinning the wool into yarn, which is then knit or woven into ...
— Wealth of the World's Waste Places and Oceania • Jewett Castello Gilson

... about to give birth to another child, and the king said that if it was not a daughter all seven children would be cursed. Now it happened that the king had to go away to war; and before departing he said to the queen, "Listen. If you have a son, hang a lance out of the window; if a daughter, a distaff; so that I can see as soon as I arrive which it is." After the king had been gone a month, the queen gave birth to the most beautiful girl that was ever seen. Imagine how pleased the queen was at having a girl. ...
— Italian Popular Tales • Thomas Frederick Crane

... busy all day long, but whenever she had a little spare time she sat down to spin. Her distaff turned of itself and her spindle span by itself and the flax wound itself off; and however much she might use ...
— The Crimson Fairy Book • Various

... jog breech, or prick him At the queens. forward. At the trades. At knockpate. At heads and points. At the Cornish c(h)ough. At the vine-tree hug. At the crane-dance. At black be thy fall. At slash and cut. At ho the distaff. At bobbing, or flirt on the At Joan Thomson. nose. At the bolting cloth. At the larks. At the ...
— Gargantua and Pantagruel, Complete. • Francois Rabelais

... and unconventional on the Continent; and Evie who is a widow and whose life has been spent being happy through others—her husband, her children, her friends. Evie's young daughter Alex is the fifth woman in the family, and the drama of The Distaff Side centers chiefly in her and her two suitors who represent such different things. But if the plot belongs to Alex, the honors of the play go to her mother—for seldom has a modern playwright drawn so warm and womanly and ...
— Why the Chimes Rang: A Play in One Act • Elizabeth Apthorp McFadden

... Perhaps some of it will be unhappy. I have made my choice and will cheerfully abide by it. I rather envy your being a man. You have the world to conquer. A woman—what can she do? She can knead the dough, ply the distaff, and sit by the lattice and ...
— Betty Zane • Zane Grey

... grass, with anemones of all colours, hyacinths, strange primulas and gentians, without having to make talk to Mr. White. But his journey was without result. He did find an exceedingly old woman keeping sheep and spinning wool with a distaff, who owned to the name of Cecca Benista. She once had a brother. Yes, Gian was his name, but he went away, as they all did. He had a voice bellissima, si bellissima; and some one told her long, long ago, that he had made his fortune, and formed a company, but he ...
— The Long Vacation • Charlotte M. Yonge

... robe their weak limbs aguish hiding, Fell bright-white to the feet, with a purple border of issue. Wreaths sat on each hoar crown, whose snows flush'd rosy beneath them; Still each hand fulfilled its pious labour eternal. 310 Singly the left upbore in wool soft-hooded a distaff, Whereto the right large threads down drawing deftly, with upturn'd Fingers shap'd them anew; then thumbs earth-pointed in even Balance twisted a spindle on orb'd wheels smoothly rotating. So clear'd softly ...
— The Poems and Fragments of Catullus • Catullus

... was a good omen: for these birds symbolized conjugal fidelity. The ceremony was begun by sacrificing a sheep to Juno, the fleece being spread upon two chairs on which the bride and bridegroom sat: then a prayer was said over them. The young wife, carrying a distaff and spindle filled with wool, was conducted to her house, a cake, baked by the vestal virgins, being carried before her. The threshold of the house was disenchanted by charms, and by annointing it with certain unctuous perfumes; but as it was considered unlucky for the new-made ...
— Folk Lore - Superstitious Beliefs in the West of Scotland within This Century • James Napier

... elegant, but unsteady circle. Pickles, hemp, chickens, curds and whey, butter; washing the clothes, minding the children, seeing to the meals of the household: say that and you have summed up the strenuous woman's round of ideas. On her left side, the distaff, with its load of flax; in her right hand, the spindle turning under a quick twist of her thumb, moistened at intervals with her tongue: so she went through life, unwearied, attending to the order and the welfare of the house. I see her in my mind's eye ...
— The Life of the Fly - With Which are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography • J. Henri Fabre

... distaff was used for holding the bunch of wool, flax, or other fibers. It was a short stick on one end of which was loosely wound the raw material. The other end of the distaff was held in the hand, under the arm or thrust in the girdle of the spinner. ...
— Textiles and Clothing • Kate Heintz Watson

... mother, old widow Malmayns, fancies herself attacked by the plague, and if he will be kind enough to visit her, she lodges in the upper attic of a baker's house, at the sign of the Wheatsheaf, in Little Distaff-lane, hard by." ...
— Old Saint Paul's - A Tale of the Plague and the Fire • William Harrison Ainsworth

... was hypaethral, that is, without a roof, so that the sky could be seen by the worshippers of the "Genius of heavenly light." The oath me-Dius Fidius could not be taken except in the open air. The chapel contained relics of the kingly period, the wool, distaff, spindle, and slippers of Tanaquil, and brass clypea or medallions, made of money confiscated ...
— Pagan and Christian Rome • Rodolfo Lanciani

... woman who sat near the window worked diligently with her distaff laden with hemp, except when the flashing lightning made her stop to raise her thin hand to her forehead. She was twisting the thread from which the sheets of the country are made. They are coarse, but they last longer ...
— Wanderings by southern waters, eastern Aquitaine • Edward Harrison Barker

... was the natural sequel of the campaign carried out four years earlier on the same territory, had been ended by a mockery. In France, reduced almost to imbecility by the absence of a guiding brain during a long minority, fallen under the distaff of a dowager both weak and wicked, distracted by the intrigues and quarrels of a swarm of self-seeking grandees, and with all its offices, from highest to lowest, of court, state, jurisprudence, and magistracy, ...
— The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1555-1566 • John Lothrop Motley

... their beehives—in a word, of all that a rich farmer like my father could possess. I engaged and dismissed the servants, and was the stewardess of the estate. The spare hours that were left from the management of the farm I spent with the needle, the lace cushion, and the distaff, or else I would read some good hook or ...
— The Junior Classics, V4 • Willam Patten (Editor)

... real mystery which can exist for you,—of all things the most familiar, and at the same the most unfamiliar,—is yourself! You need not speak in whispers. It is true, this lady has a golden quiver as well as a golden distaff; but her arrows are all for those who cannot ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 4, No. 23, September, 1859 • Various

... blanket of twisted skins of rabbits worked in the open with her primitive loom in an arbor before her door, beside her a man whirled a distaff and spun the coarse hemp of which the warp was made. Maids and mothers with water jars on their heads walked in stately file from a spring near the river's edge—and above all the serene accustomed life of that Indian village, ...
— The Flute of the Gods • Marah Ellis Ryan

... the misfortune foretold by the old fairy, issued orders forbidding any one, on pain of death, to spin with a distaff and spindle, or to have a spindle in his house. About fifteen or sixteen years after, the King and Queen being absent at one of their country villas, the young Princess was one day running up and ...
— The Tales of Mother Goose - As First Collected by Charles Perrault in 1696 • Charles Perrault

... are two anchors let fall from a swift ship. May friendly gods grant to both peoples[14] an illustrious lot: and thou O lord and ruler of the sea, husband of Amphitrite of the golden distaff, grant this my friend straight voyage and unharmed, and bless the ...
— The Extant Odes of Pindar • Pindar

... griffin; (4) griffin devouring human leg; (5) owl; (6) mermaid with mirror and hair-brush; (7) two pigs dancing to bagpipe played by a third; (8) Jonah thrown to the whale; (9) man wheeling another who holds a reed and a bag; (10) fox caught carrying off goose by dog and by woman with distaff; (11) winged animal; (12) hart, gorged and chained; (13) pelican feeding young; (14) Jonah emerging from the whale; (15) Samson carrying the gates; (16) head (modern)[100]; (17) (BISHOP'S THRONE) Caleb and Joshua carrying the grapes and ...
— Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Ripon - A Short History of the Church and a Description of Its Fabric • Cecil Walter Charles Hallett

... former days, and which is perhaps sometimes committed still. Let us not fall into the mistake of fancying that everything antiquarian, which we do not see at first sight the exact use of, must necessarily be something very mysterious. Old distaff-whorls, armlets, etc., have, in this illogical spirit, been sometimes described as Druidical amulets and talismen; ornamented rings and bosses from the ancient rich Celtic horse-harness, discovered in sepulchral barrows, have been published as Druidical astronomical instruments; ...
— Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1 • James Y. Simpson

... not think it necessary to punish them further. Grant describes the natives of Port Praya as resembling negroes, and remarks that the females seemed to spend their time in spinning cotton from a distaff with a spindle. The ship's keels were examined here and one found to be broken, but the repairs, owing to the assistance given by the Governor, were ...
— The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson - With The Journal Of Her First Commander Lieutenant James Grant, R.N • Ida Lee

... fire burning in her hand, which, however, did not hurt her, for it was the jewel she was bringing to her father. When she awoke she thought for a moment that she still held the stone, but she only grasped the knob of her distaff. ...
— Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen • Hans Christian Andersen

... laden with that huge bunch of materials for Lady Mabel's hortus siccus, thinks himself like Hercules with the distaff. To me he looks like a florist's apprentice, selling his flowers at a penny a bunch. It must be confessed though that the fellow has talents and tact. How completely has he contrived to shut out rivalry, by availing himself of my lady's weakness ...
— The Actress in High Life - An Episode in Winter Quarters • Sue Petigru Bowen

... was used for holding the bunch of wool, flax, or other fibers. It was a short stick on one end of which was loosely wound the raw material. The other end of the distaff was held in the hand, under the arm or thrust in the girdle of the spinner. When held thus, one hand was left free ...
— Textiles and Clothing • Kate Heintz Watson

... name for this stick is Distaff, a word which is derived from the Low German—diesse, the bunch of flax on a distaff, and staff. Originally it would be the staff on which the tow or flax was fastened, and from which the thread was drawn. The modern representative of the spindle with the twisted thread wound on it is the "cop," and the intermittent actions of first putting twist in the ...
— The Story of the Cotton Plant • Frederick Wilkinson

... By feeble human flesh and blood. 'Twas he that brought upon his knees The hect'ring kil-cow Hercules; Transform'd his leaguer-lion's skin T' a petticoat, and made him spin; Seiz'd on his club, and made it dwindle T' a feeble distaff ...
— An Old Sailor's Yarns • Nathaniel Ames

... to Science you can hardly escape the fame rightfully yours. You are a public figure now and must stand in the light. Would it not be preferable, mam, to talk as lady to gentleman (I am related to the Taliaferros of Ruffin County on the distaff side) than to be badgered by ...
— Greener Than You Think • Ward Moore

... old time of the Leitourgia, a most waste imbroglio, and world-wide jungle and jumble; waiting terribly to be 'well-edited' and 'well-burnt'! Arachne started with forefinger and thumb, and had not even a distaff; yet thou seest Manchester, and Cotton Cloth, which will shelter naked backs, at twopence ...
— Past and Present - Thomas Carlyle's Collected Works, Vol. XIII. • Thomas Carlyle

... furnished, with a fire just lighted, we found Madame de la Rochejaquelin on the sofa; her two daughters at work, one spinning with a distaff, the other embroidering muslin. Madame is a fat woman with a broad, round, fair face and a most benevolent expression, her hair cut short and perfectly grey as seen under her cap; the rest of the face much too young for such grey locks; and though her face and bundled form all ...
— A Book of Sibyls - Miss Barbauld, Miss Edgeworth, Mrs Opie, Miss Austen • Anne Thackeray (Mrs. Richmond Ritchie)

... rags and patches, turn Those solemn eyes a moment from your distaff, And say, what tidings your magnificence Can bring us ...
— The Saint's Tragedy • Charles Kingsley

... vessel or in horizontal aqueducts, to those vast conduits which supply the demands of a city, and to steam fire-engines which throw a column of water to the top of the loftiest buildings; in the arts of Spinning and Rope-making, from the hand distaff to the spinning-frame, and to the machine which makes cordage or cables of any length, in a space ten feet square; in Horology or Time-keeping, from the sun-dial and the water-clock to the watch, and to the chronometer, by which the mariner is assisted in measuring his ...
— Popular Education - For the use of Parents and Teachers, and for Young Persons of Both Sexes • Ira Mayhew

... steward, "hide it, my lord, hide it. Why, two such unhappy men who had surrendered to save their lives and were found in some Jewish dungeon, have been condemned to walk in the Triumph this day. Their hands are to be tied behind them; in place of their swords they must wear a distaff, and on their breasts a placard with the words written: 'I am a Roman who preferred dishonour to death.' You would not wish their ...
— Pearl-Maiden • H. Rider Haggard

... even in the light of heaven there seemed a sicklied and ghastly glare. The cottages by the road-side were some shut up and closed, some open, but seemingly inmateless. The plough stood still, the distaff plied not: horse and man had a dreary holiday. There was a darker curse upon the land than the curse of Cain! Now and then a single figure, usually clad in the gloomy robe of a friar, crossed the road, lifting towards the traveller a livid and amazed stare, and then hurried on, and vanished beneath ...
— Rienzi • Edward Bulwer Lytton

... felt, as it were, a fire burning in her hand, but it did not hurt her, for it was the jewel she was bringing to her father. When she awoke, she thought for a moment that she still held the stone, but it was the knob of her distaff that she was grasping. During the long nights she had spun incessantly, and round the distaff was turned a thread, finer than the finest web of the spider; human eyes were unable to distinguish the separate threads. She had wetted them with her tears, and the twist was strong as a ...
— What the Moon Saw: and Other Tales • Hans Christian Andersen

... you, as the female dancer will come upon the stage, with a distaff, twirling it, or with a pail to draw water; or with a spade for digging. Your companion will come next perhaps driving a wheel-barrow, or with a sickle to mow corn, or with a pipe a-smoaking; and though the scene should be a saloon, no matter, it will come soon to be ...
— A Treatise on the Art of Dancing • Giovanni-Andrea Gallini

... Lydia, wife of Melas the Spartan, sat upon a stool in the court of her house, with her wool-basket beside her, spinning. She was a tall, strong-looking young woman with golden hair and blue eyes, and as she twirled her distaff and twisted the white wool between her fingers she sang a little song to herself that sounded like the humming of bees in ...
— The Spartan Twins • Lucy (Fitch) Perkins

... combination is wanted of several particular actions corresponding with these different ideas; actions round which the principal action and the tragic impression which it is wished to produce through it unroll themselves like the yarn from the distaff, and end by enlacing our souls in nets, through which they cannot break. Let me be permitted to make use of a simile, by saying that the artist ought to begin by gathering up with parsimonious care all the ...
— The Works of Frederich Schiller in English • Frederich Schiller

... his own croupier. Besides, he is so much in London, and you so much here. You sit with the distaff; he ...
— The Judgment House • Gilbert Parker

... time a momentous revolution, the effects of which can as yet be but imperfectly descried, has taken place in the chief spheres of female industry that remain. The progress of machinery has destroyed its domestic character. The distaff has fallen from the hand. The needle is being rapidly superseded, and the work which, from the days of Homer to the present century, was accomplished in the centre of the family, has been transferred to the ...
— The Woman Who Dared • Epes Sargent

... placed on the rock for thirsty travellers; the door loaded with garlands, placed there by glad-hearted boys; the tablet covered with mathematical lines, lying on the wooden bench, sheltered by grape-vines trained in the Athenian fashion, with a distaff among the foliage; all these spoke to me of souls that unite the wisdom of age ...
— Philothea - A Grecian Romance • Lydia Maria Child

... admittance to the dooty's house, and could not obtain even a handful of corn. Reaching, however, a humble hut at which an old motherly-looking woman sat spinning cotton, he made signs that he was hungry. She immediately laid down her distaff, and desired him in Arabic to come in, setting before him a dish of kous-kous. In return he gave her one of his pocket-handkerchiefs, and asked for a little corn for his horse, which ...
— Great African Travellers - From Mungo Park to Livingstone and Stanley • W.H.G. Kingston

... being in the Dragoon Guards, was of much the same order, a black hunter with racing blood in him, loins and withers that assured any amount of force, and no fault but that of a rather coarse head, traceable to a slur on his 'scutcheon on the distaff side from a plebeian great-grandmother, who had been a cart mare, the only stain in his otherwise faultless pedigree. However, she had given him her massive shoulders, so that he was in some sense ...
— Wisdom, Wit, and Pathos of Ouida - Selected from the Works of Ouida • Ouida

... Maiden, born on the borders of France, in the duchy of Lorraine, and the see of Toul, towards the Imperial territories. This Maiden her father and mother employed in tending sheep; daily, too, did she handle the distaff; man's love she knew not; no sin, as it is said, was found in her, to her innocence the neighbours bore witness ...
— A Monk of Fife • Andrew Lang

... wood wandered the much-confused knight, recognizing, step by step, the path of the night before. The turf hut was before him—the door was open—and in the doorway sat the maiden herself, spinning, the distaff by her side, the spindle dancing on the ground, and the pilgrim's hat no longer hiding her beauteous brow and wealth of dark braided hair. But, intolerable sight, seven or eight of last night's ...
— The Prince and the Page • Charlotte M. Yonge

... Adam has begun to till the ground. The pioneer of his race, he is uprooting a huge tree, all unconscious that another figure is laboring at his side. It is not Eve, who sits in the background with her first-born at her breast and her distaff by her side,—but Death, who, with a huge lever in his bony gripe, goes at his work with a fierce energy which puts the efforts of his muscular companion to shame. The people of Holbein's day not only saw in this subject the beginning ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Volume 3, Issue 17, March, 1859 • Various

... if I can love? be this the proof How much I have loved—that I love not thee! In this vile garb, the distaff, web, and woof, Were fitter for me: Love is for the free! I am not dazzled by this splendid roof, Whate'er thy power, and great it seems to be; Heads bow, knees bend, eyes watch around a throne, And hands obey—our hearts are still ...
— Don Juan • Lord Byron

... them. You may fancy how they tore over hill and dale, through bush and bog. When the lad had run so a long time, he began to get weary, and when he had held on a while longer, he had more than enough of his watching, and just there, he came to a cleft in a rock, where an old hag sat and spun with a distaff. As soon as she saw the lad who was running after the foals till the sweat ran down his brow, ...
— Popular Tales from the Norse • Sir George Webbe Dasent

... inexpensive straw hats of various and astonishing colours. Woman he would have found in beautiful shades of blue, in such light garments "woven wind" as Theocritus speaks of when he presents the wife of his doctor with a new ivory distaff. ...
— Lost Leaders • Andrew Lang

... discovery really did bewilder Johnny, and make him believe that fairy tales might be true, after all, for how could he know that the strange woman was an Italian servant, in her native dress, with a distaff in her hand? After pausing a moment, to rub his eyes, he took another look, and made fresh discoveries by twisting his head about. A basket of oranges stood near the Princess, a striped curtain hung from ...
— The Louisa Alcott Reader - A Supplementary Reader for the Fourth Year of School • Louisa M. Alcott

... stooping along, projecting his face over his swarthy shoulders. Guido Bonatti, too, was there, astrologer of Forli; and Ardente, shoemaker of Parma, who now wishes he had stuck to his last; and the wretched women who quit the needle and the distaff to wreak their malice with herbs and images. Such was the punishment of those who, desiring to see too far before them, now looked only behind them, and walked the reverse way ...
— Stories from the Italian Poets: With Lives of the Writers, Volume 1 • Leigh Hunt

... animate female bosoms. But fair and softly, gentle reader, male or female, do not alarm thyself, for though I have contrasted the character of a modern soldier with that of a civilized woman, I am not going to advise them to turn their distaff into a musket, though I sincerely wish to see the bayonet converted into a pruning hook. I only recreated an imagination, fatigued by contemplating the vices and follies which all proceed from a feculent stream of wealth that has muddied the pure rills of natural affection, ...
— A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Title: Vindication of the Rights of Women • Mary Wollstonecraft [Godwin]

... paper, which you have kept in order to proceed by degrees, probably contains some demand more difficult to grant than that of yielding to a child scarcely a year old a crown which belongs to me by birthright, and to abandon my sceptre to take a distaff." ...
— Celebrated Crimes, Complete • Alexandre Dumas, Pere

... many months; but they were the earl's utter undoing: for when Christina heard of it, she persecuted him to death. Sophia the empress, Justinian's wife, broke a bitter jest upon Narsetes the eunuch, a famous captain then disquieted for an overthrow which he lately had: that he was fitter for a distaff and to keep women company, than to wield a sword, or to be general of an army: but it cost her dear, for he so far distasted it, that he went forthwith to the adverse part, much troubled in his ...
— The Anatomy of Melancholy • Democritus Junior

... where they lay. Appall'd he heard,— "And dropp'd the tools his dexterous hand contain'd; "But soon recover'd. Slender chains of brass, "And nets, and traps he form'd; so wonderous fine, "They mock'd the power of sight: for far less fine, "The smallest thread the distaff forms; or line, "Spun by the spider, pendent from the roof. "Curious he form'd it; at the lightest touch "It yielded; each momentum, slight howe'er, "Caus'd its recession: this he artful hung, "The couch enfolding. ...
— The Metamorphoses of Publius Ovidus Naso in English blank verse Vols. I & II • Ovid

... she is a creature of the chase. Let her escape unmangled, it will pass in the record that she did once publicly run, and some old dogs will persist in thinking her cunninger than the virtuous, which never put themselves in such positions, but ply the distaff at home. Never should reputation of woman trail a scent! How true! and true also that the women of waxwork never do; and that the women of happy marriages do not; nor the women of holy nunneries; nor the women lucky ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... Frankfurt—the clear majority, seven of the nine Electors, Bavaria itself (nay Bohemia this time, "distaff" or not), and all the others but Friedrich and Kur-Pfalz, being so disposed or so disposable, Traun being master of the ground—no difficulty about electing Grand-Duke Franz Stephan of Tuscany? Joint-King of Bohemia, to be Kaiser ...
— History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Vol. XV. (of XXI.) • Thomas Carlyle

... sober smile. "Whatever surprise we may feel at the corruption of Pausanias, he is not one who will allow us to feel contempt. Through all the voluptuous softness acquired by intercourse with these Barbarians, the strong nature of the descendant of the demigod still breaks forth. Even at the distaff I recognize Alcides, whether for evil or for good. Pausanias is one on whom our most anxious gaze must be duly bent. But in this change of his I rejoice; the gods are at work for Athens. See you not that, day after day, while Pausanias disgusts the allies with the Spartans ...
— Pausanias, the Spartan - The Haunted and the Haunters, An Unfinished Historical Romance • Lord Lytton

... the King at his Court! If she cannot face a score of simple country nobles here, how can she present herself at Chinon? Let her learn her place by a sharp lesson here; so may she understand that she had best return to her distaff and spindle and leave the crowning of Kings to other hands!' And it was in the midst of the roar of laughter which greeted this speech that the door opened slowly—and we saw the maid of ...
— A Heroine of France • Evelyn Everett-Green

... there a little private flock was being tended by a girl, one spinning with a distaff, another seated on a wall and intently making lace. This last, when we addressed her, leaped up in a panic and put out her arms, like a person swimming, to keep us at a distance, and it was some seconds before we could persuade her of the ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition - Vol. 1 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... to-day. They feel that the Stuarts were the last kings of England to rule by the grace of God rather than by the grace of Parliament. As a matter of fact, the present reigning family in England is glad to derive its ancient strain of royal blood through a Stuart—descended on the distaff side from James I., and winding ...
— Famous Affinities of History, Vol 1-4, Complete - The Romance of Devotion • Lyndon Orr

... cause for complaint on the part of the sentimentalists who prefer molasses to meat. But this is a tale which is also literature. Conrad will never be coerced into offering his readers sugar-coated tittle-tattle. And at a period when the distaff of fiction is too often in the hands of men the voice of the romantic realist and poetic ironist, Joseph Conrad, sounds a dynamic masculine bass amid the shriller choir. He is an aboriginal force. Let us close with the hearty affirmation ...
— Ivory Apes and Peacocks • James Huneker

... made her blush. She appeared only still more beautiful from her modesty; and Nourgehan was charmed when he saw the sage who had proposed the question agree that she had answered with her usual justness, when she said that it was a Chestnut. She answered the third without hesitation, that it was a Distaff. ...
— Eastern Tales by Many Story Tellers • Various

... sitting somewhere, and thinking about you just at this very minute; one has a distaff in her hands, and is spinning a thread; she has come to a knot in it, and is puzzled what to do with it. Her sister has a great pair of scissors in her hands, and wants—as she always does, when any difficulty arises in the smoothness of the thread—to cut it off short; but the third, who has ...
— Wives and Daughters • Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

... discipline for the flax; it straightened out its fibres and made it as clear and straight as a girl's tresses. Out of the tow we twisted bag strings, flail strings, and other strings. With the worthless portions we made huge bonfires. The flax, Mother would mass upon her distaff and spin into threads. The last I saw of the old crackle, fifty or more years ago, it served as a hen roost under the shed, and the savage old hetchel was doing duty behind the old churner when he sulked ...
— My Boyhood • John Burroughs

... square presented a lively spectacle. At one time there were three carts, twelve horses, and six men all in a snarl, while a dozen women stood at their doors and gave advice. One was washing a lettuce, another dressing her baby, a third twirling her distaff, and a fourth with her little bowl of soup, which she ate in public while gesticulating so frantically that her sabots [Footnote: Sabots: wooden shoes.] clattered on ...
— Short Stories and Selections for Use in the Secondary Schools • Emilie Kip Baker

... her lips, when there came into her chamber the three unerring Fates who spin the destinies of men. White-robed and garlanded, they stood beside the babe, and with unwearied fingers drew out the lines of his untried life. Clotho held the golden distaff in her hand, and twirled and twisted the delicate thread. Lachesis, now sad, now hopeful, with her long white fingers held the hour-glass, and framed her lips to say, 'It is enough.' And Atropos, blind and unpitying as the future always is, stood ready, with cruel ...
— Hero Tales • James Baldwin

... Clan of Tweedie a descent of a similar romantic nature. A baron, somewhat elderly, had wedded a buxom young wife, but some months after their union he left her to ply the distaff among the mountains of the county of Peebles, near the sources of the Tweed. After being absent seven or eight years—no uncommon space for a pilgrimage to Palestine—he returned, and found, to quote the account given by Sir Walter Scott, "his family had ...
— Strange Pages from Family Papers • T. F. Thiselton Dyer

... matter of language. It involves stripping the immigrant of much of what he has inherited from the centuries. He is the finished product of those centuries. His speech, his manner, his dress, his ideas along social and political and industrial lines have been fashioned upon the distaff of time. He lands upon American soil and at once there is a strangeness in the atmosphere that awes him, it is a new world in truth and the newness of it repels him and drives him back upon himself. The faintest link between the new world and the old is a ...
— Catholic Problems in Western Canada • George Thomas Daly

... and such-like," we have records from the twelfth century; though until the reign of Edward IV only friezes and plain coarse cloth were made. In Edward's reign an Italian, "Anthony Bonvise," is reputed to have taught Barnstaple the making of fine "kersies," and spinning with a distaff; doubtless this was looked upon by the older generation of conservatives as a deterioration to luxury and soft living; they would hark back to the standards of a simpler age, when a King's breeches cost him no ...
— Lynton and Lynmouth - A Pageant of Cliff & Moorland • John Presland

... goes, "over head and ears." Nay, was she not, in the long nights, busy working a pair of red slippers for the object of her new affections, and were not these so very suitable to one who, like Hercules, was reduced almost to the distaff, and who, unlike that woman-tamed hero, did not need them to be applied anywhere ...
— Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Vol. XXIII. • Various

... have been sent from Portugal, a country which is near Spain, and very like it in all respects. It is a very fine country, famous for wine, and oil; and the sheep are much prized for their superior wool. The ladies of rank still spin flax from a distaff, to show their industry. The peasantry are not very well off; their only luxury is tobacco, and their usual fare is bread, made of Indian corn, with a salted pilchard, or a head of garlic, to give it a relish. They are polite and hospitable; but the people of ...
— The World's Fair • Anonymous

... He was bred to the sedentary trade of a tailor, and worked for some years with his relation, Mr. Austerbury, of Friday Street, Cheapside; but love, which works so many changes, and which has ere now transformed blacksmiths into painters, and which induced Hercules to exchange his club for the distaff, caused this Knight of the Steel Bar to relinquish the shop-board and patch up his fortune by the patty-pan. He married his landlady, a widow, who resided in Turnmill Street, Clerkenwell. He had a soul above buttons, and abandoned the making of garments ...
— Real Life In London, Volumes I. and II. • Pierce Egan

... peace was substituted for a treaty of marriage. But while the negotiations were going on, Irene herself was deposed by the great treasurer, Nicephorus, who even refused to grant her the smallest pittance, so that the degraded empress was obliged to support herself by the labors of the distaff. He was, however, glad to conclude a ...
— Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 1 of 8 • Various

... cried, in a haughty tone. 'Clothe me more beautifully than mortal maid was ever clad before, so that I may find favour in the prince's sight and become the bride of the castle. I would that I were done for ever with the spindle and the distaff.' ...
— The Little Colonel's House Party • Annie Fellows Johnston

... has fallen upon the women: Dionysus has sent the sting of his enthusiasm upon them, and has pushed it to a sort of madness, a madness which imitates the true Thiasus. Forced to have the form without the profit of his worship, the whole female population, leaving distaff and spindle, and headed by the three princesses, have deserted the town, and are lying encamped on the bare rocks, or under the pines, among the solitudes of Cithaeron. And it is just at this point that the divine child, [61] supposed to have perished at his mother's side in ...
— Greek Studies: A Series of Essays • Walter Horatio Pater

... proves from some old Grecian Poet, So plain that all Men sure must know it, That of this Tree the Club was made, With which he overcame ('tis said) Thespius' Daughters, all grown wild, And fifty Mad-Women made mild; Which very Club—(it makes one Laugh) Omphale turn'd into a Distaff. Nay, the Hesperian Tree was this, As shew the Poma Veneris; These Apples doubtless were the Fruit That 'twixt the Queens rais'd such Dispute, To make 'em all stark-naked stand, While Paris held it in his Hand, And chuck'd it into Venus' Mouth, 'Cause she with ...
— The Ladies Delight • Anonymous

... maid, spinning together in the Hall, their fingers drawing the roving from the distaff and stretching it out as the spindle twisted it, were finally on the point ...
— Stories from Everybody's Magazine • 1910 issues of Everybody's Magazine

... or taunt in the dialogue. We know the patterns on the Dauphin's armour and the Pucelle's sword, the crest on Warwick's helmet and the colour of Bardolph's nose. Portia has golden hair, Phoebe is black-haired, Orlando has chestnut curls, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek's hair hangs like flax on a distaff, and won't curl at all. Some of the characters are stout, some lean, some straight, some hunchbacked, some fair, some dark, and some are to blacken their faces. Lear has a white beard, Hamlet's father a grizzled, and Benedick is to shave his in the course of the play. Indeed, ...
— Intentions • Oscar Wilde

... families were engaged in all the usual domestic avocations of a household. The mothers were dressing the children, or getting the breakfast, while the grandmothers and aunts were knitting, or spinning thread with a distaff and spindle. The men were often employed in ...
— Rollo in Naples • Jacob Abbott

... forth and told the thing To Teiresias the seer, whose words were truth, And bade him rede her what the end should be:— 'And if the gods bode mischief, hide it not, Pitying, from me: man shall not thus avoid The doom that Fate upon her distaff spins. Son of Eueres, thou ...
— Theocritus • Theocritus

... sublime, Extends her massy wall from clime to clime; With bells and dragons crests her Pagod-bowers, Her silken palaces, and porcelain towers; With long canals a thousand nations laves; 110 Plants all her wilds, and peoples all her waves; Slow treads fair CANNABIS the breezy strand, The distaff streams ...
— The Botanic Garden. Part II. - Containing The Loves of the Plants. A Poem. - With Philosophical Notes. • Erasmus Darwin

... must know, were quite poor, and had to work pretty hard for a living. Old Philemon toiled diligently in his garden, while Baucis was always busy with her distaff, or making a little butter and cheese with their cow's milk, or doing one thing and another about the cottage. Their food was seldom anything but bread, milk, and vegetables, with sometimes a portion of honey from their beehive, and ...
— The Children's Hour, Volume 3 (of 10) • Various

... to discover the new-made nest and the exultant mater-familias. But instead of a white old hen with yellow legs, who had laid her master many eggs, there, on a barrel, stood brave Chanticleer, cackling away for dear life,—Hercules holding the distaff among his Omphales! Now—for there are many things to be learned from hens—mark the injustice of the tyrant man. From time immemorial, girls—at least country girls—have been ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 92, June, 1865 • Various

... time, her hair was cropped close, while she stood in the pillory, and she was marched to one of the gates and made to abjure the City for the remainder of her life. A procurer or procuress was also set in the thewe to the accompaniment of music, with a "distaf with towen"—i.e., a distaff dressed with flax—in his or her hand; and the transgressor was made to serve as a public spectacle for such time as the Mayor and Aldermen deemed fit. A priest detected in the company of a loose female, if she were single, was conveyed to the Tun, attended by musicians; and ...
— The Customs of Old England • F. J. Snell

... could be my subjects, and that I Could call such pow'r and such a world my own, I would not take it from a woman's hand. Fame is my mistress, madam, and my sword The only friend I ever wooed her with. I hate all honours smelling of the distaff, And, by this light, would as lief wear a spindle Hung round my neck, as thank a lady's hand For any favour ...
— The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction - Volume 19. Issue 539 - 24 Mar 1832 • Various

... partly play You must on St. Distaff's Day; Give St. Distaff all the right, Then give Christmas sport ...
— Character Sketches of Romance, Fiction and the Drama - A Revised American Edition of the Reader's Handbook, Vol. 3 • E. Cobham Brewer

... a child so ungracious as this I never yet saw; no, never! All the day long he idleth away his time with the sons of the quarter, vagabonds like himself, and his father (O regret of me!) died not save of dolour for him. And I also am now in piteous plight: I spin cotton and toil at my distaff, night and day, that I may earn a couple of scones of bread which we eat together. This is his condition, O my brother-in-law; and, by the life of thee, he cometh not near me save at meal-times and none other. Indeed, I am thinking to lock the house-door nor ever ...
— Supplemental Nights, Volume 3 • Richard F. Burton

... worked all day long was the making of clothing for their families. Most of their garments were made of the wool from their own flocks. First the wool had to be spun into yarn. They did not even have spinning wheels in those days, so a spinner took a handful of wool on the end of a stick called a distaff, which she held in her left hand. With her right hand she hooked into the wool a spindle. This was a round, pointed piece of wood about ten inches long with a hook at the pointed end, and with a small piece of stone fastened to the ...
— Hebrew Life and Times • Harold B. Hunting

... the stories in this book was, that if a woman, on leaving off work on Saturday night, left her distaff loaded, she might be sure that the thread she would obtain from it during the following week would only produce linen of bad quality, which could not be bleached; this was considered to be proved by the fact that the Germans wore dark-brown coloured ...
— Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period • Paul Lacroix

... descent upon the carpet as if it were only a thief of color, and plant trees to shut it away from the mouldering house. All the animals know better than this, as well as the more simple races of men; the old women of the southern Italian coasts sit all day in the sun and ply the distaff, as grateful as the sociable hens on the south side of a New England barn; the slow tortoise likes to take the sun upon his sloping back, soaking in color that shall make him immortal when the ...
— Baddeck and That Sort of Thing • Charles Dudley Warner

... indefinable being who suddenly issued from a clump of bushes, pulled away the cow by its rope. This woman wore on her head a red handkerchief, beneath which trailed long locks of hair in color and shape like the flax on a distaff. She wore no fichu. A coarse woollen petticoat in black and gray stripes, too short by several inches, exposed her legs. She might have belonged to some tribe of Red-Skins described by Cooper, for her legs, neck, and arms were the color of brick. No ray of intelligence ...
— Adieu • Honore de Balzac

... is the better, my work or yours?" And Arachne was obliged to confess that she had been defeated and put to shame. But the goddess was not thoroughly satisfied; to punish Arachne, she touched her lightly with the distaff, saying, "Spin forever!" and thereupon Arachne was changed into a spider, which forever spins and weaves perishable films of perishable shiny thread. Poetically we still may call ...
— Books and Habits from the Lectures of Lafcadio Hearn • Lafcadio Hearn

... painfully with their tongues out; behind the cart the man pushed. It contained a disorderly freight: a large feather-bed, a copper cauldron, a bird-cage, a mattock, a clock curiously carved, a spinning-wheel with a distaff impoverished of flax, and some kitchen utensils, which, as the woman stumbled and ...
— Leaves from a Field Note-Book • J. H. Morgan

... Christianity in that their predestinating, determining force, instead of being qualified by any play of free-will, or any feasible plan of ultimate and superabounding good, has been a real fatalism, changeless, hopeless, remorseless. That the distaff of the Fates, and the ruthless sceptre of the Erinnys, entered in full force into all the religions of the Greeks and Romans, scarcely needs to be affirmed. They controlled all human affairs, and even the ...
— Oriental Religions and Christianity • Frank F. Ellinwood

... and Sarvik engaged in a terrific wrestling-match, which lasted for seven days and nights, with varying success. At length the shade of Linda, who was looking on, took her distaff, swung it ten times round her head, and dashed it to the ground. The hint was not lost on her son. He seized Sarvik by the garters, whirled him ten times round, and then hurled him down, set his knee on his chest, and seized his throat and ...
— The Hero of Esthonia and Other Studies in the Romantic Literature of That Country • William Forsell Kirby

... "There is an excellent print, by Bouck, I believe, of an old woman beating the devil with a distaff; distaffs have been out of fashion with spinsters ever since, ...
— Helen • Maria Edgeworth



Words linked to "Distaff" :   sphere, staff, area, domain, feminine, orbit, field, arena, spinning wheel



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