Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Nautical A trysail.
  • n. A short double-breasted overcoat worn by men in the early 19th century.
  • n. A close-fitting, waist-length jacket worn by women.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A short, close-fitting jacket primarily worn by women and children in the early nineteenth century; probably named after George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834).
  • n. A thin knitted woollen vest.
  • n. A large loose-fitted gaffsail on a square-rigger or barque, used from the nineteenth century onwards.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who has the care of the spence, or buttery.
  • n. A short jacket worn by men and by women.
  • n. A fore-and-aft sail, abaft the foremast or the mainmast, hoisted upon a small supplementary mast and set with a gaff and no boom; a trysail carried at the foremast or mainmast; -- named after its inventor, Knight Spencer, of England [1802].

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A man's outer garment or overcoat so short that the skirts of the body-coat worn under it were seen: a fashion introduced about 1800.
  • n. A woman's garment introduced a year or two later, and made in direct imitation of the above.
  • n. Nautical, a trapezoidal fore-and-aft sail set abaft the foremast and mainmast; a trysail.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. English philosopher and sociologist who applied the theory of natural selection to human societies (1820-1903)

Etymologies

Perhaps from the name Spencer.
After George John Spencer, Second Earl Spencer (1758-1834).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the family name Spencer. (Wiktionary)

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