E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Lovingly soft. A seaphrase. When a ship under sail in a sea-storm cannot bear it, but is obliged to put right before the wind, she is said to spoon; so a young man under sail in the sea of courtship spoons when he cannot bear it, but is obliged to put right before the gale of his ladys eyebrow.