Last week, a friend asked me, “at what age do you become a spinster”? This got me wondering. A “Spinster, in case you’re not familiar with the term is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as… “A woman who is not married, esp. a woman who is no longer young and seems unlikely ever to marry”. It’s no secret that I have been married and divorced. So although technically, I’m not a spinster, I am not married, either. Read on to see what I found out about when you become a Spinster.
*This is a partnered post
At What Age Do You Become A Spinster?
The word “Spinster” originates from the 13th century, when the job of spinning wool was usually done by unmarried women. Before long, the term referred to the unmarried women themselves. Eventually, it became the legal phrase for an unmarried woman. The dictionary then goes on to say… “This word is likely to be offensive except if it is used about people in the past“.
It seems pretty mean that women get such a degrading name, when the male equivalent is “Bachelor”. This word originates from the lowest level of Knight… You know – “the guys in shining armour, who rescue the beautiful maidens”.
How Old Are You When You Become A Spinster?
According to several sources, you become a Spinster at the age of 23. Traditionally, women were married off young, to increase their chances of providing a Son for their Husband. Some sources say you were only a spinster from age 23 to 26 though. Then you became a Thornback. I haven’t found any hard evidence to support this. It all seems to come back to one tweet from 2019.
How Old Is Too Old?
Many people find love long after this age of course. My Aunt, for example was happy on her own. She had no intention of ever getting married, and happily referred to herself as an old maid. Until she was 48 anyway, when she was swept off her feet by her now husband of 16 years. She’s not alone either. Plenty of more mature people are finding love later in life. A quick google will bring up dating sites for over 50 year olds.
Not all members are “spinsters” of course. Many people find themselves single at this stage. Perhaps they are dating following separation, as they stayed married for the kids’ sake? Alternatively, maybe they were focussing on their careers, and didn’t have time to find love before this point in life. With that in mind, I feel it’s unfair to assume that people who are still unmarried at this age aren’t, “A good catch”.
Spinster VS Old Maid
Another phrase you hear a lot, when referring to unmarried women is, “old maid”. The Cambridge dictionary defines this phrase as… “a woman who is not young and has not married“. It also says, “This word is likely to be considered offensive.” The origin of the phrase old maid comes from the fact most milk maids were young women. These were usually married off by the time they were 20, so most milk maids beyond this age were unmarried.
Finally, it is worth noting that in this day and age, there is no reason to feel the need to marry. Plenty of couples live many years in unwedded bliss. So don’t rush into saying those vows just to avoid this phrase, and others like it.