Language doesn't count, I guess
In the novel In the Shadow of Gotham, which is set in 1905, there is a reference made to
"those do-good Christian reform places run by spinster ladies with too much time on their hands",and how a young ex-prostitute was probably given a job by
"a self-righteous old lady who got to feel good".The person to whom this was said
"stifled a smile at hearing these imagined traits. Mrs. Wingate was a spinster, to be sure, but I felt she would have more than shared Mamie's sentiments about self-righteous do-gooders."Wait a minute. Mrs. Wingate was a spinster?
Has that ever been possible? I know the word used to be neutral and now is decidedly not, but did it ever apply to widows?
I don't think so... And it's too bad that in a novel praised for the author's "ability to see the New York City landscape and culture as it was in the early 1900s" (Steve Steinbock, EQMM, Dec 2011) it's sad to see that words aren't included in "culture".