AskDefine | Define spatula

Dictionary Definition



1 a turner with a narrow flexible blade
2 a hand tool with a thin flexible blade used to mix or spread soft substances

User Contributed Dictionary



  • ˈspætʰj̥ʊlə


  1. A kitchen utensil consisting of a flat surface attached to a long handle, used for turning or lifting food.
  2. A palette knife.
  3. A thin hand tool, often made of nickel, for handling chemicals or other materials, when weighing, etc.

Derived terms


kitchen utensil
  • Dutch: spatel
  • Finnish: lasta
  • Spanish: espátula
palette knife
thin hand tool for handling chemicals or other materials

Extensive Definition

A spatula, also known as a fish slice in British English, is a kitchen utensil with a long handle and a broad flat edge, used for lifting fish and fried foods. Though the word spatula is used in British English, it refers solely to a mixing and spreading implement. In parts of Canada and the United States, spatulas are sometimes called flippers or turners. They are used both in the preparation of food, as a flipping implement, and in the serving of food. Often the plate scraper is referred to as a spatula.
The word spatula, known in English since 1525, is a diminutive form of the Latin term spatha, which means a broad sword (as in spatharius) or a flat piece of wood and is also the origin of the words spade (digging tool) and spathe.


Spatulas have a handle that is long enough to keep the holder's hand away from what is being lifted, or flipped.
The blade of the device is wide and/or thin. The shape of the blade varies, with square and rectangular shapes being most common. The blade is usually somewhat flexible. Spatula blades are often longer on the right side than the left, as this is more effective for right-handed people. There are also left-handed spatulas, but these are rare. Most have long slots on the blades to allow liquids to flow through, though some have holes or no perforations at all.
Spatulas are usually made of plastic or metal, with a wooden or plastic handle to insulate them from heat. Thus, spatulas made for outdoor grilling have very long handles.
Spatulas can be colorful or have very artistic designs. They can be used as decorations in the home or in some abstract art forms.

Related utensils


spatula in Danish: Spatel
spatula in German: Pfannenwender
spatula in Spanish: Espátula
spatula in French: Spatule (cuisine)
spatula in Indonesian: Spatula
spatula in Dutch: Bakspatel
spatula in Japanese: フライ返し
spatula in Norwegian Nynorsk: Spatel
spatula in Russian: Шпатель

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

air brush, art paper, brush, camera lucida, camera obscura, canvas, chalk, charcoal, chisel, crayon, drawing paper, drawing pencil, drier, easel, fixative, ground, lay figure, mallet, maulstick, medium, modeling clay, paint, paintbrush, palette, palette knife, pastel, pencil, pigments, point, scratchboard, siccative, sketchbook, sketchpad, solder, soldering iron, spray gun, stump, varnish
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