Also found in: Idioms.


1. A minor member of an operatic or dramatic cast, usually having no speaking part.
2. One whose presence or performance has little effect on an occurrence, group, or organization.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Just as Human Rights Watch led the human rights community as it arose, it is now the poster child for a movement that has become a spear-carrier for the "exceptionalist" belief that the west has a providential right to intervene wherever in the world it wishes." "For many years as a foreign correspondent, I not only worked alongside human rights advocates, but considered myself one of them.
Gielgud's first job as a professional actor was as a spear-carrier in a 1921 production of Henry V.
"King Lear" was the first play Cronin ever acted in - he was a spear-carrier when he was in college himself - but not until now has he played the title role.
If I'd known that back then I would have knocked technical drawing on the head and signed up to become a young Romeo, understudy for young Romeo, spear-carrier for young Romeo, I don't care, just let me in on the Romeo action.
He remembers: 'I thought people were joking when they said they were just a spear-carrier. But my first role was carrying a hunting spear in King Lear.
He was a spear-carrier in a Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night.
Like any other accurate depiction of Fascist Italy's drama, Farrell's writing pays due attention to that often overlooked spear-carrier who in the second-last act became a protagonist: the King.
He singled out arch-rival BBC1 for blame, accusing the pubcaster's flagship channel of prioritizing ratings over its traditional role as the industry's creative spear-carrier.
Roy Wiggins was, until a couple of years ago, wowing the pensioners from behind bars at Baginton Road Post Office and John Barnes rose to become chief spear-carrier at the Criterion Theatre (Earlsdon, not London).
And in the demanding ranks of tolling rep, he soon graduated from spear-carrier to featured comic supporting player.
Stuart said: "The best performance you could hope to get from Tony Adams is as a spear-carrier with no lines to deliver.