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

  • n. Nautical A wooden or metal pole, such as a boom, yard, or bowsprit, used to support sails and rigging.
  • n. A usually metal pole used as part of a crane or derrick.
  • n. A main structural member in an airplane wing or a tail assembly that runs from tip to tip or from root to tip.
  • transitive v. To supply with spars.
  • transitive v. Archaic To fasten with a bolt.
  • intransitive v. To fight with an opponent in a short bout or practice session, as in boxing or the martial arts.
  • intransitive v. To make boxing or fighting motions without hitting one's opponent.
  • intransitive v. To bandy words about in argument; dispute.
  • intransitive v. To fight by striking with the feet and spurs. Used of gamecocks.
  • n. A motion of attack or defense in boxing.
  • n. A sparring match.
  • n. A nonmetallic, readily cleavable, translucent or transparent light-colored mineral with a shiny luster, such as feldspar.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stout pole.
  • n. A general term denoting any linear object used as a mast, sprit, yard, boom, pole or gaff.
  • n. A beam-like structural member that supports ribs in an aircraft wing or other airfoil.
  • n. any of various microcrystalline minerals, of light, translucent, or transparent blee, which are easily cleft
  • n. any crystal with no readily discernible faces.
  • v. to bolt, bar.
  • v. To fight, especially as practice for martial arts or hand-to-hand combat.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An old name for a nonmetallic mineral, usually cleavable and somewhat lustrous; It was especially used in the case of the gangue minerals of a metalliferous vein.
  • n. A general term any round piece of timber used as a mast, yard, boom, or gaff.
  • n. Formerly, a piece of timber, in a general sense; -- still applied locally to rafters.
  • n. The bar of a gate or door.
  • n. A contest at sparring or boxing.
  • n. A movement of offense or defense in boxing.
  • intransitive v. To strike with the feet or spurs, as cocks do.
  • intransitive v. To use the fists and arms scientifically in attack or defense; to contend or combat with the fists, as for exercise or amusement; to box.
  • intransitive v. To contest in words; to wrangle.
  • transitive v. To bolt; to bar.
  • transitive v. To To supply or equip with spars, as a vessel.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To shut, close, or fasten with a bar or a bolt; bar; fasten in any way.
  • To furnish with or form by the use of spars; supply a spar or spars to: as, to spar a ship or a mast.
  • To aid (a vessel) over a shallow bar by the use of spars and tackles: a device frequently in use on the western rivers of the United States.
  • To rush forward in attack; make an onset.
  • To rise and strike with the shanks or spurs; fight, as cocks, with the spurs protected with leather pads, so that the birds cannot injure each other.
  • To make the motions of attack and defense with the arms and closed fists; use the hands in or as if in boxing, either with or without boxing-gloves; practise boxing.
  • To bandy words; engage in a wordy contest, either angrily or humorously.
  • n. A stick or piece of wood of considerable length in proportion to its thickness; a stout pole; a large cudgel.
  • n. A bar used for fastening a gate or door, or the like; hence, a bolt.
  • n. Specifically— A round stick of timber, or a stout pole, such as those used for the masts, yards, booms, etc., of ships. and for the masts and jibs of derricks.
  • n. One of the common rafters of a roof, as distinguished from the principal rafters; also, one of the sticks used as rafters in a thatched roof.
  • n. A pole lashed to a carriage to hold it up, in place of a disabled wheel.
  • n. In mineralogy, a general term formerly employed, but rather vaguely, to include a large number of crystalline minerals having a bright but non-metallic luster, especially when breaking readily into fragments with smooth surfaces.
  • n. A preliminary sparring action: a flourish of the arms and fists in putting one's self in the attitude of boxing.
  • n. A sparring-match; a contest of boxing or striking; also, a cock-fight in which the contending cocks are not permitted to do each other serious harm, or in which they have their spurs covered with stuffed leather pods, so that they cannot cut each other.
  • n. A wordy contest; a skirmish of words.
  • n. A sparoid fish; any species of Sparus. Rawlinson, Anc. Egypt.

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

  • n. any of various nonmetallic minerals (calcite or feldspar) that are light in color and transparent or translucent and cleavable
  • n. a stout rounded pole of wood or metal used to support rigging
  • v. furnish with spars
  • n. making the motions of attack and defense with the fists and arms; a part of training for a boxer
  • v. box lightly
  • v. fight with spurs
  • v. fight verbally


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

Middle English sparre, rafter.
Middle English sparren, to thrust or strike rapidly, perhaps from obsolete French esparer, to kick, from Old Italian sparare, to fling : s-, intensive pref.; see sforzando + parare, to ward off; see parry.
Low German, from Middle Low German.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English sparren ("to close, bar"), from Old English sparrian ("to bar, shut"), from Proto-Germanic *sparrjanan (“to bolt, bar”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)per- (“beam, bar”). Cognate with Old High German sparran, sperren, Old Norse sperra.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English sparre ("spar, rafter, beam"), from Old Norse sparri ("rafter, beam, peg"), from Proto-Germanic *sparrô (“stake, beam”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)par- (“beam, log”). Cognate with Dutch spar ("balk"), German Sparren ("rafter, spar"), Danish sparre ("spar"). Related to spear, park.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English sparren ("to thrust or strike rapidly"), from Old English sperran, spirran, spyrran ("to strike, strike out at, spar"), related to Low German sparre ("a struggling, striving"), German sich sperren ("to struggle, resist, oppose"), Icelandic sperrask ("to kick out at, thrust, struggle").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle Low German spar, sper ("spar"); or from a backformation of sparstone ("spar"), from Middle English sparston ("gypsum, chalk"), from Old English spærstān ("gypsum"). Related to German Sparkalk ("plaster"), Old English spæren ("of plaster, of mortar").


  • The term spar is a generic term used by geologists to refer to any non-metallic mineral with a glassy (vitreous) luster that breaks on distinct flat surfaces (planes).


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  • Men who have loved the ships they took to sea,

    Loved the tall masts, the prows that creamed with foam,

    Have learned, deep in their hearts, how it might be

    That there is yet a dearer thing than home.

    The decks they walk, the rigging in the stars,

    The clean boards counted in the watch they keep—

    These, and the sunlight on the slippery spars,

    Will haunt them ever, waking and asleep.

    - David Morton, 'Mariners'.

    September 21, 2009

  • Let's hope not.

    August 12, 2008

  • I wonder if the OED's definition applies also to the Coast Guard Women's Reserve.

    August 12, 2008

  • Don't forget it's an acronym for the Coast Guard Women's Reserve. Acronym from "Semper Paratus, Always Ready." :) I always think of those sharp uniforms whenever I see the word.

    August 12, 2008

  • I'm partial to the OED's definition: "..a number of crystalline minerals more or less lustrous in appearance and admitting of easy cleavage."

    August 12, 2008