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    star-spangled (adj.) — steeple (n.)

    star-spangled (adj.)

    "spotted or spangled with stars," 1590s, from star (n.) + past participle spangle (v.); Star-Spangled Banner for "United States flag" is attested from 1814, in Francis Scott Key's poem (printed in the "Baltimore Patriot" Sept. 20), in reference to the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore overnight Sept. 13-14.ETD star-spangled (adj.).2

    start (v.)

    Middle English sterten, "leap, jump, cavort, caper," from Old English *steortian, *stiertan, Kentish variants of styrtan "to leap up" (but the Old English verb is attested only in Northumbrian past participle sturtende), from Proto-Germanic *stert- (source also of Old Frisian sterta, stirta "to fall, tumble," Middle Dutch sterten, storten, Dutch storten "to rush, fall," Old High German sturzen, German stürzen "to hurl, throw, plunge"). According to Watkins, the notion is "move briskly, move swiftly," and the Proto-Germanic word is from PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff."ETD start (v.).2

    From "move or spring suddenly," the sense extended by c. 1300 to include "awaken suddenly or abruptly; flinch or recoil in alarm," and by 1660s to "cause to begin acting or operating."ETD start (v.).3

    The meaning "begin to move, leave, or depart; enter upon action" (without implication of suddenness) is from 1821. The connection probably is from sporting senses ("force an animal from its lair," late 14c.). The transitive sense of "set in motion or action" is from 1670s; specifically as "set machinery in action" by 1841.ETD start (v.).4

    Related: Started; starting. To start in "begin" in any sense, is by 1873, American English; to start something "cause trouble" is by 1915, American English colloquial. To start over "begin again" is from 1912. In running, starting-line is so called by 1855; starting-block by 1937.ETD start (v.).5

    start (n.)

    late 14c., "an involuntary movement of the body, a sudden jump," from start (v.). The meaning "act of beginning to move or act, a setting out in some course or action" is by 1560s; that of "act of setting in motion, signal to begin" is from c. 1600.ETD start (n.).2

    Many senses are modern; in sports-writing it is synecdoche for "a game" (by 1944). The meaning "act of beginning to build a house" is from 1946, as in the statistical term housing starts. The meaning "opportunity at the beginning of a career or course of action" is from 1849, from the notion of a lead or advantage in setting out (in a race or contest). It has been paired regularly with finish (n.) from at least 1839.ETD start (n.).3

    starter (n.)

    c. 1400, stertour "one who or that which starts; instigator," agent noun from start (v.). The meaning "one who gives the signal to start a race" is by 1620s. The mechanical sense of "apparatus for activating a machine" is from 1875. The U.S. sports sense of "player who starts the game" (at any position but especially pitcher in baseball) is by 1967.ETD starter (n.).2

    For starters "to begin with" is 1873, American English colloquial. Starter home is from 1976; starter set is from 1946, originally of china.ETD starter (n.).3

    startle (v.)

    c. 1300, stertelen, "move agitatedly, run to and fro" (intransitive), also "caper, romp, skip; leap, jump;" from Old English steartlian, from the source of start (v.) + frequentative suffix -le (as in topple, jostle, fizzle, etc.); see -el (3).ETD startle (v.).2

    The sense of "move suddenly in surprise or fear" is recorded by 1520s. The transitive meaning "frighten suddenly, cause to start, excite by sudden surprise" is from 1590s.ETD startle (v.).3

    The word retains more of the original meaning of start (v.). Related: Startled; startling; startlingly. As a noun from 1714, "sudden movement or mental shock caused by fear, alarm, etc."ETD startle (v.).4

    start-up (n.)

    also startup, 1550s, "upstart," from the verbal phrase, which is attested from c. 1200 in the sense of "rise up" and by 1590s as "come suddenly into being." See start (v.) + up (adv.). The meaning "action of starting up" is from 1845, a new formation. Earlier startups (1510s) were a kind of half-boot or buskin.ETD start-up (n.).2

    starve (v.)

    Middle English sterven, "perish, die, cease to exist," also "die spiritually," from Old English steorfan "to die" (past tense stearf, past participle storfen), etymologically "become stiff," from Proto-Germanic *sterbanan "be stiff, starve" (source also of Old Frisian sterva, Old Saxon sterban, Dutch sterven, Old High German sterban "to die"). This is reconstructed to be from an extended form of PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff."ETD starve (v.).2

    The conjugation became weak in English by 16c. The word seems to have been used especially of lingering or wasting deaths, and came to especially mean "die of cold" (14c.); "die from want of nourishment, suffer from hunger" (mid-15c.). The transitive meaning "afflict or kill with hunger" is recorded by 1520s (Middle English starve of hunger in the same sense is from early 12c.; hunger-storven "dead from hunger" is from late 14c.).ETD starve (v.).3

    The "die of cold" sense is marked "Now chiefly Eng." in Century Dictionary (1902) and "Now only North." in OED (1989). Wedgwood (1878) notes that "In the Midland Counties to clem is to perish from hunger ; to starve, to suffer from cold."ETD starve (v.).4

    German cognate sterben "to die" retains the original sense of the word, but the English has come so far from its origins that starve to death (1910) is now common. The verb is not found in Scandinavian, but compare Old Norse stjarfi "tetanus."ETD starve (v.).5

    starvation (n.)

    1778, "extreme suffering from hunger," hybrid noun of action from starve; see -tion. Famously (but not certainly) introduced into English by Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, during debate in the House of Commons in 1775 on American affairs. The remark earned him the nickname "Starvation Dundas," though sources disagree on whether this was to fix his name shamefully to the harsh suggestion of starving the rebels into submission, or in derision at the barbarous formation of the word.ETD starvation (n.).2

    It is noted as one of the earliest instances of -ation used with a native Germanic word (flirtation is earlier), based on a false analogy with vex/vexation, etc.ETD starvation (n.).3

    The general sense of "deprivation of any element essential to nutrition or health," often figurative, is by 1866. In common with starve (v.) it also was used occasionally with reference to suffering from exposure to cold.ETD starvation (n.).4

    starveling (n.)

    1540s, "starving or starved person or animal, one made lean and weak through want of nourishment," later also of plants, from starve (v.) + diminutive suffix -ling. As an adjective, "weak from hunger, wanting nourishment," from 1590s.ETD starveling (n.).2

    Star Wars (n.)

    name of a popular science fiction film (released May 25, 1977); also the informal name for a space-based missile defense system proposed in 1983 by U.S. president Ronald Reagan.ETD Star Wars (n.).2

    stash (n.)

    "hoard, cache, a collection of things stashed away," 1914, criminal slang, from stash (v.). The specific sense of "personal supply of narcotics" is by 1942.ETD stash (n.).2

    stash (v.)

    "to conceal, hide," 1797, criminals' slang, a word of unknown origin, perhaps suggested by stow and cache. Related: Stashed; stashing.ETD stash (v.).2

    stasis (n.)

    in pathology, "a stoppage of circulation," 1745, from medical Latin, a specialized use of Greek stasis "a standing still, a standing; the posture of standing; a position, a point of the compass; position, state, or condition of anything;" also "a party, a company, a sect," especially one for seditious purposes. This is related to statos "placed," verbal adjective of histēmi "cause to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").ETD stasis (n.).2

    The general sense of "immobility, stagnation" is by 1920; by 1942 in Reich's psychological theory. Plural is staseis or stases.ETD stasis (n.).3


    word-forming element used from 18c. in making names of devices for stabilizing or regulating (such as thermostat), from Greek statos "standing, stationary," from PIE *ste-to-, suffixed form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." First attested in heliostat "an instrument for causing the sun to appear stationary" (1742). Related: -static.ETD -stat.2

    stat (n.)

    "instrument that keeps something stationary," before 1970, from -stat, terminal element in names of scientific instruments.ETD stat (n.).2

    As an abbreviation of statistic, by 1961. Related: Stats.ETD stat (n.).3

    state (v.)

    1590s, "to set in a position, fix (a date, etc.)," from state (n.1) "circumstances, position." The sense of "declare, recite, set down in detail in words" is attested by 1640s from the notion of "placing" the words on the record. Related: Stated; stating.ETD state (v.).2

    stately (adj.)

    late 14c., statli, "noble, splendid, befitting high rank," with -ly (1) + state (n.1). Related to the sense in lie in state "be ceremoniously exposed to view before interment" and state-room, originally "room reserved for ceremonial occasions." Compare Dutch statelijk. Related: Stateliness.ETD stately (adj.).2

    state (n.2)

    "political organization of a country; supreme civil power, the government; the whole people considered as a body politic," 1530s, from special use of state (n.1); this sense grew out of the meaning "condition of a country" with regard to government, prosperity, etc. (late 13c.), from Latin phrases such as status rei publicæ "condition (or existence) of the republic."ETD state (n.2).2

    The sense of "a semi-independent political entity under a federal authority, one of the bodies politic which together make up a federal republic" is from 1774. The British North American colonies occasionally were called states as far back as 1630s.ETD state (n.2).3

    State rights in U.S. political sense is attested from 1798 (the form states rights is recorded by 1824): the doctrine that states retain all rights and privileges not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, in its extreme form including the power and right of sovereignty.ETD state (n.2).4

    Often contrasted with ecclesiastical power in phrase church and state (1580s). State socialism attested from 1850 as "a scheme of government favoring enlargement of state functions as the directest way to achieve socialist goals."ETD state (n.2).5

    States (n.)

    late 14c., states of the realm, "one of the major classes constituting the body politic and participating in parliament;" see state (n.1) and compare estate. It was used 16c.-17c. of the Netherlands and the States has been short for the United States of America since 1777.ETD States (n.).2

    state (n.1)

    [mode or form of existence] c. 1200, stat, "circumstances, position in society, temporary attributes of a person or thing, conditions," from Old French estat "position, condition; status, stature, station," and directly from Latin status "a station, position, place; way of standing, posture; order, arrangement, condition," figuratively "standing, rank; public order, community organization."ETD state (n.1).2

    This is a noun of action from the past-participle stem of stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm"). Some Middle English senses are via Old French estat (French état; see estate). The Latin word was adopted into other modern Germanic languages (German, Dutch staat) but chiefly in the political senses only.ETD state (n.1).3

    The meanings "physical condition as regards form or structure," "particular condition or phase," and "condition with reference to a norm" are attested from c. 1300. The meaning "mental or emotional condition" is attested from 1530s (the phrase state of mind is attested by 1749); the specific colloquial sense of "an agitated or perturbed condition" is from 1837.ETD state (n.1).4

    The meaning "splendor of ceremony, etc., appropriate to high office; dignity and pomp befitting a person of high degree" is from early 14c. Hence to lie in state "be ceremoniously exposed to view before interment" (1705) and keep state "conduct oneself with pompous dignity" (1590s).ETD state (n.1).5

    Sense in quantum physics is by 1913.ETD state (n.1).6

    statecraft (n.)

    "the management of government, art of conducting affairs of state," 1640s, from state (n.2) + craft (n.).ETD statecraft (n.).2

    statehood (n.)

    "condition or status of a (political) state," 1819, from state (n.) + -hood.ETD statehood (n.).2

    state-house (n.)

    1630s, American English, "a building used for public business," especially one in which the colonial or (later) state legislature sits, from state (n.2) + house (n.).ETD state-house (n.).2

    stateless (adj.)

    c. 1600, of lands, etc., "without a political community," from state (n.2) + -less. As "not being a citizen or subject of any state, lacking a national citizenship" by 1930. Related: Statelessly; statelessness.ETD stateless (adj.).2

    statement (n.)

    1767, "what is stated, formal embodiment of facts or opinions," apparently originally in reference to the reports of the East India Company, from state (v.) + -ment. From 1789 as "action of stating;" by 1885 in the commercial sense of "document displaying debits and credits."ETD statement (n.).2

    state-of-the-art (adj.)

    "current condition of development and latest techniques" of a practical or technological field, 1961, from the noun phrase (1816), from state (n.1) + art (n.).ETD state-of-the-art (adj.).2

    stater (n.)

    ancient coin, late 14c., from Greek stater, from histanai "to fix, to place in a balance," hence "to weigh;" literally "to cause to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm"). Once the name of a specific issue of coin, in ancient Greece it became a general name for the principal or standard coin in any place. It is the "piece of money" in Matt. xvii.27.ETD stater (n.).2

    state-room (n.)

    also stateroom, 1703, "room in a great house or palace reserved for ceremonial occasions;" earlier (1650s) "a captain's cabin;" from room (n.) + state (n.1) in the sense of "costly and imposing display" also preserved in stately. Hence, from the last sense, "small private sleeping apartment in a passenger ship" (1774).ETD state-room (n.).2

    stateside (adj.)

    also state-side, "in the continental United States," by 1939 in the jargon of U.S. sailors stationed in Hawaii (then a territory), popularized in World War II U.S. military slang, from the States "United States" (see States) + side.ETD stateside (adj.).2

    statesman (n.)

    "one who takes a lead part in the direction and management of public affairs," especially if versed in the art of government, able, and sagacious, 1590s, after French homme d'état; from possessive of state (n.2) + man (n.). Related: Statesmanly; statesmanlike; statesmanship. Stateswoman is attested from c. 1600.ETD statesman (n.).2

    static (n.)

    "random radio noise," 1912, from static (adj.). The figurative sense of "aggravation, criticism" is attested from 1926.ETD static (n.).2

    statics (n.)

    "branch of mechanics which treats of stresses and strains," 1650s, from Modern Latin statica (see static); also see -ics. Related: Statical; statically. Greek statikhē was "the art of weighing."ETD statics (n.).2

    static (adj.)

    1630s, "pertaining to the science of weight and its mechanical effects," from Modern Latin statica, from Greek statikos "causing to stand, skilled in weighing," statos, verbal stem of histanai "to make to stand, set; to place in the balance, weigh" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm"). Earlier was statical (1560s).ETD static (adj.).2

    The sense of "having to do with bodies at rest or with forces that balance each other" is by 1850 (statical in this sense is by 1802). It was applied to frictional electricity by 1839.ETD static (adj.).3

    station (n.)

    late 13c., stacioun, "a place one normally occupies," from Old French stacion, estacion "site, location; station of the Cross; stop, standstill," from Latin stationem (nominative statio) "a standing, standing firm; a post, job, position; military post; a watch, guard, sentinel; anchorage, port" (related to stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").ETD station (n.).2

    The meaning "fixed uniform distance in surveying" is from 1570s. The meaning "each of a number of holy places visited in succession by pilgrims" is from late 14c. in English; a similar notion is in Stations of the Cross (1550s). The meaning "regular stopping place" is recorded by 1797, in reference to coach routes; it was applied to stopping places on railroads by 1830.ETD station (n.).3

    The meaning "military post" in English is from c. 1600. The meaning "place where people are placed or sent for some special purpose, locality to which a functionary is appointed" (as in polling station) is by 1817, in police station "place where a police force is assembled when not on duty;" station house "police station" is attested from 1836.ETD station (n.).4

    The meaning "place for transmitting radio or television signals" is from 1912, in radio station; station break, a pause in broadcasting to give the local station a chance to identify itself, is attested from 1942.ETD station (n.).5

    The figurative or extended sense of "status, rank" (one's "place" in the scale of society) is from c. 1600.ETD station (n.).6

    stationer (n.)

    "book-dealer, seller of books and paper," early 14c. (late 13c. as a surname), stacioner, from Medieval Latin stationarius "tradesman who sells from a 'station' or shop," from an adjective stationarius "not moving" (see stationary), or else an agent noun from station (n.).ETD stationer (n.).2

    In the Middle English period roving peddlers sold goods and wares; the sellers with fixed locations often were bookshops licensed by the universities. Hence the word acquired a more specific sense. The London livery Company of Stationers dates to 1556 and comprised, in addition to book-sellers, printers, binders, and dealers in writing materials.ETD stationer (n.).3

    station (v.)

    "assign a post or position to," 1748, from station (n.). Related: Stationed; stationing.ETD station (v.).2

    stationary (adj.)

    late 14c., stacionarie, "having no apparent motion" (in reference to planets), via Anglo-Latin stationarius "motionless," from the stem of Latin statio "a standing, post, job, position" (see station (n.)). The Old French form was stacioonaire.ETD stationary (adj.).2

    The meaning "unmovable, not intended to be moved" is from 1640s. The transferred meaning "remaining unchanged" in condition, quantity, etc., is by 1620s.ETD stationary (adj.).3

    Related: Stationarily; stationariness; stationarity. In classical Latin, stationarius is recorded only as "of a military station;" the word for "stationary, steady" being statarius.ETD stationary (adj.).4

    stationery (n.)

    "writing material; paper, envelopes, etc.," 1727, from stationery wares (c. 1680) "articles sold by a stationer," from stationer (q.v.) "seller of books and paper" + -y (1).ETD stationery (n.).2

    The spelling distinction from stationary is purely etymological, though convenient in print. Stationery department is attested by 1813 in reference to government; by 1831 in reference to printing shops and other commercial operations.ETD stationery (n.).3

    stationmaster (n.)

    also station-master, "official in charge of a railway station," by 1836, from station (n.) + master (n.).ETD stationmaster (n.).2

    station-wagon (n.)

    "automobile with a rear door or doors," made to carry goods as well as passengers, by 1929, from earlier use of the phrase in reference to a horse-drawn conveyance that took passengers (and their baggage) from and to railroad stations (1894). See station (n.) + wagon (n.).ETD station-wagon (n.).2

    statism (n.)

    c. 1600, in reference to church-state matters; 1880 as "the art of government;" by 1912 in reference to the political theory that to some degree legitimatizes centralized state control over society and the economy, the modern political opposite of individualism; from state (n.2) + -ism.ETD statism (n.).2

    statist (n.)

    1580s, "statesman" (OED marks this "Very common in 17th c. Now arch."); by 1803 in the sense of "statistician." It is attested by 1976 as "supporter of statism (q.v.);" attested by 1960 as an adjective in this sense.ETD statist (n.).2

    statistic (n.)

    1852, "a statistical statement; one numerical statistic," see statistics. From 1939 in reference to a person considered as nothing more than an example of some measured quantity.ETD statistic (n.).2

    statistics (n.)

    1770, "science dealing with data about the condition of a state or community" [Barnhart], from German Statistik, popularized and perhaps coined by German political scientist Gottfried Achenwall (1719-1772) in his "Vorbereitung zur Staatswissenschaft" (1748), from Modern Latin statisticum (collegium) "(lecture course on) state affairs," from Italian statista "one skilled in statecraft," from Latin status "a station, position, place; order, arrangement, condition," figuratively "public order, community organization," noun of action from past-participle stem of stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").ETD statistics (n.).2

    OED points out that "the context shows that [Achenwall] did not regard the term as novel," but current use of it seems to trace to him. Sir John Sinclair is credited with introducing it in English use.ETD statistics (n.).3

    The broader meaning "numerical data of any sort collected and classified systematically" is from 1829; hence the study of any subject by means of extensive enumeration. Abbreviated form stats is recorded by 1961.ETD statistics (n.).4

    statistical (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to statistics," 1787, from statistics + -al (1). Related: Statistically.ETD statistical (adj.).2

    statistician (n.)

    "one versed in statistics; one who collects and tabulates statistics," 1801, from statistics + -ian.ETD statistician (n.).2

    stative (n.)

    in linguistics and in Hebrew grammar, indicating the case of certain verbs indicating a physical state, or intransitive or reflexive action, 1874, from Latin stativus "standing still," from status "a station, position, place" (see state (n.1)). Earlier in English it was an adjective meaning "stationary, fixed" (of a date, etc.); by 1630s.ETD stative (n.).2

    stator (n.)

    "stationary part of a generator" (opposed to rotor), 1895, from Latin stator, agent noun from stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm"). In classical Latin it meant "an orderly, attendant upon a proconsul" but also was an epithet of Jupiter.ETD stator (n.).2

    statue (n.)

    "figure of a person or animal made in a solid substance, of some size and in the round," late 14c., from Old French statue, estatue "(pagan) statue, graven image" (12c.), from Latin statua "image, statue, monumental figure, representation in metal."ETD statue (n.).2

    This is properly "that which is set up," a back-formation from statuere "to cause to stand, set up," from status "a standing, position," from past participle stem of stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").ETD statue (n.).3

    The children's game of statues is attested by that name from 1906. Among the verbs for "represent as a statue" that have been tried in English and mostly discarded are statuize (1719, translating French fait Statuër), statue (1751), statufy (1868).ETD statue (n.).4

    status (n.)

    1670s, "height" of a situation or condition, later "legal standing of a person" (1791), from Latin status "condition, position, state, manner, attitude," from past-participle stem of stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").ETD status (n.).2

    In law, the meaning "legal standing in reference to some defined class of persons" is by 1791. The sense of "standing in one's society or profession" is attested by 1820.ETD status (n.).3

    Used as an adjective in modern sociology by 1947 (status-anxiety). Status symbol is recorded by 1955; status-seeking in the social sense from 1956 (status-seeker is by 1951).ETD status (n.).4

    statuary (n.)

    1560s, "art of making statues;" 1580s, "statue sculptor," from Latin statuaria (ars) "(art) of sculpture." The noun is thus the fem. of the adjective statuarius "of statues" (also as a noun, "maker of statues"), from statua "an image, statue, monumental figure" (see statue).ETD statuary (n.).2

    The meaning "statues collectively" is from 1670s. As an adjective, "of or pertaining to statues," 1620s, from the noun or from Latin statuarius.ETD statuary (n.).3

    statuesque (adj.)

    "of or like a statue" in some sense, especially "stately, having a formal dignity and beauty, tall and solidly built," 1823, from statue, patterned on picturesque. Related: Statuesquely; statuesqueness.ETD statuesque (adj.).2

    statuette (n.)

    "a small statue, a figurine," 1843, earlier in French, from statue + diminutive ending -ette.ETD statuette (n.).2

    stature (n.)

    early 14c., "full height; the natural height of a body," from Old French stature, estature "build, structure," from Latin statura "height, size of body, size, growth" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm," with derivatives meaning "place or thing that is standing"). The figurative sense, in reference to immaterial things, is recorded by 1834.ETD stature (n.).2

    status quo (n.)

    "unaltered condition," 1833, from the Latin phrase status quo "the state in which" (things were at first or are now), hence "existing state of affairs." Also status quo ante "the state in which before, state of affairs previous" (1877). Related: Status-quoism.ETD status quo (n.).2

    statute (n.)

    c. 1300, "a law of the land, a ruler's decree," from Old French statut, estatut, estatu "(royal) promulgation, (legal) statute," from Late Latin statutum "a law, decree," noun use of neuter past participle of Latin statuere "enact, establish," from status "condition, position," from stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").ETD statute (n.).2

    Especially, later, "an ordinance promulgated by a legislative body" (late 14c.). As an adjective designating units of measure or weight as set by statute, 1580s.ETD statute (n.).3

    statutory (adj.)

    "pertaining to statutes; depending on statute for authority; required by statute," 1766, from statute + -ory. It was used earlier in a now-obsolete sense of "pertaining to enactment" (1717). Statutory rape is so called by 1873; in U.S., "sexual intercourse with a female below the legal age of consent, whether forced or not." Related: Statutorily.ETD statutory (adj.).2

    staunch (adj.)

    early 15c., "watertight, impervious to water," from Old French estanche, Anglo-French estaunche, "firm, watertight," fem. of estanc "tired, exhausted, wearied, vanquished; water-tight; withered, dried" (Modern French étanche), from Vulgar Latin *stanticare (source also of Spanish estanco "water-tight," Italian stanco "exhausted, weary"). This is probably from Latin stans (genitive stantis), present participle of stare "to stand" (from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm").ETD staunch (adj.).2

    The sense of "strong, substantial" is recorded by mid-15c.; of persons, "standing firm and true to one's principles" from 1620s.ETD staunch (adj.).3

    staunchly (adv.)

    "firmly, determinedly," 1825, from staunch + -ly (2).ETD staunchly (adv.).2


    word-forming element from Greek, used in science and theology and meaning "cross;" from Greek stauros "pole; cross," which is cognate with Old Norse staurr "pole," from PIE *stehu- "pole" (see steer (v.)). The Greek word also formed words for the Crucifixion, e.g. staurōsis "impalement, crucifixion."ETD stauro-.2

    stave (n.)

    "one of the thin, narrow pieces of wood which, hooped together, make up a barrel, tub, etc.," 1750, a back-formation from staves (late 14c.), the old plural of staff, with the usual change to final -f- to medial -v- (compare leaves/leaf). The plural form possibly was in Old English but it is not recorded there.ETD stave (n.).2

    stave (v.)

    early 15c., "to fit with staves" (implied in staving), from stave (n.). It is attested from late 15c. as "enclose with a fence of wooden posts (implied in staved).ETD stave (v.).2

    The meaning "break in the staves of, knock a hole in" is from 1590s, with in from 1748, chiefly nautical, on the notion of bashing in the staves of a cask. The past tense there is stove. To stave off (1620s), however, is originally "keep off with a staff," as of one beset by wolves or dogs. Related: Staved; staving.ETD stave (v.).3

    stavesacre (n.)

    herbal plant of the Delphinium family, native to southern Europe and Asia Minor, the seeds of which were used medicinally, c. 1200, stephis-agre, from Latin staphisagria, from Greek staphis agria, literally "wild raisin."ETD stavesacre (n.).2

    This is from staphis "raisin" (according to Klein, probably related to staphylē "bunch of grapes;" Beekes agrees and calls it a substrate word). Supposedly so called from resemblance of the dark, wrinkled-looking seeds.ETD stavesacre (n.).3

    The second word is agria, fem. of agrios "wild," etymologically "living in the fields," from agros "field" (from PIE root *agro- "field").ETD stavesacre (n.).4

    stay-at-home (n.)

    "one not given to roaming or travel," 1834, from adjectival phrase stay-at-home (1797); see stay (v.1). Especially, in the U.S. Civil War, a disparaging name for an eligible man not volunteering for service. Compare the Middle English surname of Thomas Steyhame, 1381.ETD stay-at-home (n.).2

    staycation (n.)

    also stay-cation, 2008, American English, a word from the "Great Recession" of that year, from stay (v.1) + ending from vacation.ETD staycation (n.).2

    staymaker (n.)

    also stay-maker, "maker of corsets," 1730, from stays + maker.ETD staymaker (n.).2


    1975 as an abbreviation of sexually transmitted disease, which is attested by 1918. Earlier it had been an abbreviation of Latin Sacrosanctae Theologiae Doctor "Doctor of Sacred Theology."ETD S.T.D..2

    stead (n.)

    Middle English stede, from Old English stede, steode "particular place, place in general, position occupied by someone;" also "standing, firmness, stability, fixity," from Proto-Germanic *stadi- (source also of Old Saxon stedi, Old Frisian sted, Old Norse staðr "place, spot; stop, pause; town," Swedish stad, Dutch stede "place," Old High German stat, German Stadt "town," Gothic staþs "place").ETD stead (n.).2

    This is from PIE *steti-, suffixed form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." Related to stand, equivalent to Latin statio and Greek stasis, and compare instead.ETD stead (n.).3

    Now chiefly in compounds or phrases. The meaning "assistance, use, benefit, advantage" is from c. 1300. From mid-13c. as "site for a building;" from mid-14c. as "property or estate in land." The meaning "frame on which a bed is laid" is from c. 1400.ETD stead (n.).4

    Middle English stead sometimes was used for "town, city." The German use of Stadt for "town, city" "is a late development from c. 1200 when the term began to replace Burg" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]. The Steads was 16c. English for "the Hanseatic cities."ETD stead (n.).5

    steadfast (adj.)

    Middle English stedfast, of persons, "unshakable, stubborn, resolute; firm and fixed in purpose, faith, etc." (c. 1200), from Old English stedefæst "secure in position, steady, firm in its place," from stede "place, position" (see stead) + fæst (see fast (adj.)).ETD steadfast (adj.).2

    Similar formation in Middle Low German stedevast, Old Norse staðfastr "steadfast, firm; faithful, staunch, firm in one's mind." Related: Steadfastly, steadfastness.ETD steadfast (adj.).3

    steady (v.)

    1520s, transitive "hold or keep from rocking or shaking;" also intransitive, "gain or regain an upright, stable position," from steady (adj.). Related: Steadied; steadying.ETD steady (v.).2

    steady (adj.)

    1520s, "firmly fixed in place or station" (displacing earlier steadfast, which came to be used of persons and characters), from stead + adjectival suffix -y (2), perhaps on model of Middle Dutch, Middle Low German stadig.ETD steady (adj.).2

    Old English had stæððig "grave, serious," and stedig "barren," but neither seems to be the direct source of the modern word. Old Norse cognate stoðugr "steady, stable" was closer in sense. As an adverb from c. 1600.ETD steady (adj.).3

    The meaning "working at an even rate" is recorded by 1540s, as is the sense of "free from irregular or uneven motion."ETD steady (adj.).4

    Originally of things; of persons or minds from c. 1600, "resolute, constant in purpose or pursuit." The colloquial sense of "regular in habits, not dissipated" is by 1832. The nautical use as a command ("steer steady") is attested by 1620s; hence probably the use as a cheer of encouragement and expressions such as steady as she goes.ETD steady (adj.).5

    Steady progress is etymologically a contradiction in terms. Steady state "unvarying condition" is attested by 1885; specifically as a cosmological theory (propounded by Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle), it is attested from 1948. Related: Steadily; steadiness.ETD steady (adj.).6

    steady (n.)

    1792, "a steady thing or place," from steady (adj.). From 1885 in the mechanical sense of "something that holds another object steady."ETD steady (n.).2

    The meaning "one's boyfriend or girlfriend" is from 1897 in youth slang (to go steady is by 1905), from steady (adj.), in reference to a lover or suitor, "regular, constant," attested from 1887.ETD steady (n.).3

    steak (n.)

    mid-15c., steke, "thick slice of meat cut for roasting," probably from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse steik "roast meat," related to steikja "to roast on a spit," and ultimately meaning "something stuck" (on a spit), from Proto-Germanic *staiko-, from PIE *steig- "to stick; pointed" (see stick (v.)). Steak-knife "serrated table knife" is by 1895.ETD steak (n.).2

    steal (n.)

    1825, "act or case of theft," from steal (v.). It is attested in American English by 1872 as "dishonesty or fraud on a large scale." The meaning "a bargain" is attested by 1942, American English colloquial. Baseball sense of "a furtive run from one base to the next" is by 1867.ETD steal (n.).2

    stealing (n.)

    "theft, act of one who steals," early 14c., verbal noun from steal (v.). Old English had stælðing "theft," from the word that became stealth, which is the older noun in this sense.ETD stealing (n.).2

    steal (v.)

    Middle English stelen, from Old English stelan "commit a theft, take and carry off clandestinely and without right or leave" (class IV strong verb; past tense stæl, past participle stolen), from Proto-Germanic *stelanan (source also of Old Norse stela, Old Saxon stelan, Old Frisian stela "to steal, rob one of," Dutch stelen, Old High German stelan, German stehlen, Gothic stilan "to steal"), which is perhaps from a PIE *stel-, variant of *ster- "rob, steal," but Boutkan finds for it no good IE etymology.ETD steal (v.).2

    The intransitive meaning "depart or withdraw stealthily and secretly" is from late Old English. "The notion of secrecy ... seems to be part of the original meaning of the vb." [OED]. According to Buck, most IE words for steal have roots in notions of "hide," "carry off," or "collect, heap up."ETD steal (v.).3

    Attested as a verb of stealthy motion from c. 1300 (as in steal away, late 14c.). Of kisses from late 14c.; of time from 1520s; of glances, sighs, etc., from 1580s. In reference to plagiarism by 1540s. The various sports senses begin 1836 (cricket). To steal the show in entertainment slang (by 1925) is to outshine the rest of the cast.ETD steal (v.).4

    stealth (n.)

    mid-13c., stelthe, "theft, action or practice of stealing" (a sense now obsolete), from a probable Old English *stælþ, which is related to stelen (see steal (v.)), from Proto-Germanic *stælitho (source also of Old Norse stulþr), with Proto-Germanic abstract noun suffix *-itho (see -th (2)). Compare heal/health, weal/wealth.ETD stealth (n.).2

    The sense of "secret action, clandestine method or proceeding" developed c. 1300 and has become the dominant sense, but the word retained its etymological sense of "stealing" into 18c. It got a boost in modern use as an adjective from stealth fighter, stealth bomber, radar-evading U.S. military aircraft activated in 1983.ETD stealth (n.).3

    stealthful (adj.)

    "acting by stealth, characterized by concealment, furtive," 1620s, from stealth + -ful. Related: Stealthfully; stealthfulness.ETD stealthful (adj.).2

    stealthy (adj.)

    "acting stealthily, furtive, characterized by concealment," c. 1600, from stealth + -y (2). Related: Stealthily; stealthiness.ETD stealthy (adj.).2

    steam (n.)

    Middle English stēm, from Old English steam "vapor from a body, fumes, a scent or odor given off from a heated or burned object," from Proto-Germanic *staumaz (source also of Dutch stoom "steam"), a word of unknown origin.ETD steam (n.).2

    The meaning "water in a gaseous state" is from mid-15c. Especially "vapor of boiling water used to drive an engine" from 1690s. Hence many figurative uses, such as let off steam (1783 in a literal sense; figurative by 1845 ("Sam Slick")), blow off steam (1857 figurative), full-steam (1812 literal), get up steam (1887 figurative).ETD steam (n.).3

    Hence also Steam Age (1828, at the start of it) in reference to the era when steam power predominated.ETD steam (n.).4

    But by 1941 it meant "old-fashioned." Steam heat is by 1824 in thermodynamics, "heat required to produce steam;" from 1901 as a method of temperature control involving condensation of steam in pipes or radiators.ETD steam (n.).5

    steam (v.)

    Old English stiemen, stymen "emit vapor, emit a scent or odor," from the root of steam (n.). Meaning "go by steam power" is from 1831. Transitive sense from 1660s, "to emit as steam;" meaning "to treat with steam" is from 1798. Slang steam up (transitive) "make (someone) angry" is by 1921, American English; steamed up is attested slightly earlier in slang as "motivated, enthused" (1913). Related: Steamed; steaming.ETD steam (v.).2

    steamboat (n.)

    "vessel propelled by steam power," 1787, from steam (n.) + boat (n.).ETD steamboat (n.).2

    steam-engine (n.)

    "engine in which the mechanical forces arise from the expansion of steam," 1751; earlier in the same sense was fire-engine (1722), atmospheric engine.ETD steam-engine (n.).2

    steamer (n.)

    1814 in the cookery sense, "appliance for exposing food to steam," agent noun from steam (v.). From 1825 as "a vessel propelled by steam," hence steamer trunk (1885), one that carries the essentials for an ocean voyage. From 1900 as "motor car powered by steam."ETD steamer (n.).2

    steamy (adj.)

    1640s, "vaporous, misty, abounding in steam," from steam (n.) + -y (2). In the sense of "erotic, salacious, sexy," it is recorded by 1952. Related: Steamily; steaminess.ETD steamy (adj.).2

    steampunk (n.)

    also steam-punk, by 1992, perhaps 1989, from steam (n.), as in Age of Steam, + punk (n.), probably on model of cyberpunk (1986).ETD steampunk (n.).2

    steam-roller (n.)

    also steamroller, "heavy motor-driven vehicle with wide wheels for crushing down and leveling roads," 1866, from steam (n.) + roller. The original ones were steam-driven and debuted in Paris c. 1865. Earlier as the name of a steam-powered pressing device used by paper-manufactures and iron mills (1829). As a verb, by 1896 in the figurative sense (implied in steam-rollered). Steam-roll (v.) is from 1870 (implied in steam-rolling (n.)).ETD steam-roller (n.).2

    steamship (n.)

    also steam-ship, "ship propelled by steam power," 1819, from steam (n.) + ship (n.).ETD steamship (n.).2

    steam-whistle (n.)

    "sounding device connected to the boiler of a steam-engine," 1836, from steam (n.) + whistle (n.).ETD steam-whistle (n.).2

    stearin (n.)

    glycerine of stearic acid, white crystalline compound found in animal and vegetable fats (it was derived from mutton fat, among other things), 1817, from French stéarine, coined by French chemist Marie-Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889) from Greek stear (genitive steatos) "tallow, stiff fat, suet" (contrasted with pimelē "soft fat, lard;" compare Latin sebum/adeps). This is related to histēmi "cause to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." Stearic "obtained from stearin" (1831) is from French stéarique.ETD stearin (n.).2

    steatopygia (n.)

    "condition of having fat buttocks," 1879, with abstract noun ending -ia + steatopyga "abnormal accumulation of fat on the buttocks of certain races," 1822, Modern Latin, from steato- "fat, tallow," a combining form of Greek stear (genitive steatos) "solid fat, suet" (see stearin) + Greek pygē "rump, buttocks" (see callipygian). Related: Steatopygous; steatopygy.ETD steatopygia (n.).2

    steed (n.)

    Middle English stede, from Old English steda "stallion, stud horse," from Proto-Germanic *stodjon (source also of Old Norse stoð), from the same Germanic root as Old English stod (see stud (n.2)). In Middle English, "a great horse" (as distinguished from a palfrey), "a spirited war horse." Obsolete from 16c. except in poetic, rhetorical, or jocular language.ETD steed (n.).2

    steel (n.)

    modified form of iron produced with a small portion of carbon, not found in nature but known in ancient times, Middle English stele, from Old English style "steel," from noun use of Proto-Germanic adjective *stakhlijan "made of steel" (source also of Old Saxon stehli, Old Norse, Middle Low German stal, Danish staal, Swedish stål, Middle Dutch stael, Dutch staal, Old High German stahal, German Stahl).ETD steel (n.).2

    This is said to be related to *stakhla "standing fast," from PIE *stek-lo-, from root *stak- "to stand, place, be firm" (see stay (n.1)). The notion is perhaps "that which stands firm." No corresponding word exists outside Germanic languages except those likely borrowed from them.ETD steel (n.).3

    Figurative of hardness at least from c. 1200. As an adjective from c. 1200 (Old English used stylen (Middle English steelen). Steel wool "fine, matted strands of steel for scouring, etc." is attested from 1896. Steel drum as a West Indies percussion instrument is from 1952. A steel trap, one with springs and teeth of steel, is attested by 1735; as figurative of a quick, sure mind, by 1910.ETD steel (n.).4

    steel (v.)

    "make hard or strong like steel," 1580s, earliest use is figurative, from steel (n.). Old English and Middle English lacked the verb but had styled, steled "made of steel." Related: Steeled; steeling.ETD steel (v.).2

    steely (adj.)

    mid-15c., steli, figurative (of someone's heart), "hard or cold as steel," from steel (n.) + -y (2). The literal meaning "made of steel" is by 1580s. Related: Steeliness.ETD steely (adj.).2

    steenbok (n.)

    small African antelope, 1775, from Afrikaans steenbok, from Middle Dutch steenboc "wild goat," literally "stone buck," and thus cognate with Old English stanbucca "mountain goat," German Steinbock. See stone (n.) + buck (n.1).ETD steenbok (n.).2

    steep (v.)

    "to soak (something) in a liquid," early 14c., stēpen, a word of uncertain origin and "difficult etymology" [OED]; originally in reference to barley or malt. It is probably cognate with Old Norse steypa "to pour out, throw," from Proto-Germanic *staupijanan. Perhaps there was an unrecorded Old English verb (compare Old English steap, steop "stoup, drinking vessel").ETD steep (v.).2

    The intransitive sense of "soak, be bathed" is from late 14c. Figuratively, "imbue with a specified influence," by c. 1600. Related: Steeped; steeping. As a noun, "process of steeping," mid-15c.ETD steep (v.).3

    steep (adj.)

    "precipitous, sheer, having a sharp slope," of cliffs, mountains, etc., Middle English stēpe, from Old English steap "high, lofty" (senses now obsolete), also "deep; prominent, projecting," from Proto-Germanic *staupa- (source also of Old Frisian stap "high, lofty," Middle High German *stouf).ETD steep (adj.).2

    This is held to be from PIE *steup-, an extended form of the root *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock, beat," with derivations referring to projecting objects (source also of Greek typtein "to strike," typos "a blow, mold, die;" Sanskrit tup- "harm," tundate "pushes, stabs;" Gothic stautan "push;" Old Norse stuttr "short"). But Boutkan is dubious of the wider grouping.ETD steep (adj.).3

    The sense of "precipitous" probably was in Old English. In Middle English also of strong men, loud voices, large bright eyes, and old age. The slang sense of "at a high price" is a U.S. coinage attested by 1856. Related: Steeply. The noun meaning "a steep place, a declivity" is from 1550s.ETD steep (adj.).4

    steepness (n.)

    "precipitousness; quality or condition of being steep," mid-15c., stēpnesse, "height," from steep (adj.) + -ness.ETD steepness (n.).2

    steepen (v.)

    "become steep or more steep," 1827, from steep (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Steepened; steepening.ETD steepen (v.).2

    steeple (n.)

    Middle English stēpel "tall structure, high tower," from Old English stepel (Mercian), stiepel (West Saxon) "high tower," related to steap "high, lofty," from Proto-Germanic *staupilaz , from *staup- (see steep (adj.)). From late 12c. especially "lofty tower or bell-tower on a church."ETD steeple (n.).2

    Also the name of a lofty style of women's head-dress from the 14th century. Steeple-house (1640s) was the old Quaker way of referring to "a church edifice," to avoid in that sense church, which had with them a more restricted meaning "the body of believers."ETD steeple (n.).3

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