stagger (v.)
mid-15c., "walk unsteadily, reel" (intransitive), altered from stakeren (early 14c.), from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Danish stagra, Old Norse stakra "to push, shove, cause to reel," also "to stumble, stagger," perhaps literally "hit with a stick," from Proto-Germanic *stakon- "a stake," from PIE *steg- (1) "pole, stick." Cognate with Dutch staggelen "to stagger," German staggeln "to stammer." Transitive sense of "bewilder, amaze" first recorded 1550s; that of "arrange in a zig-zag pattern" is from 1856. Related: Staggered; staggering.
staggering (adj.)
"amazing," 1560s, figurative present participle adjective from stagger (v.). Related: Staggeringly.
staging (n.)
"temporary structure or support," early 14c., verbal noun from stage (v.). As an adjective to designate "stopping place or assembly point," 1945.
stagnant (adj.)
1660s, from French stagnant (early 17c.), from Latin stagnantem (nominative stagnans), present participle of stagnare "to stagnate" (see stagnate). Related: Stagnancy (1650s); stagnantly.
stagnate (v.)
1660s, from Latin stagnatum, stagnatus, past participle of stagnare "to stagnate," from stagnatum "standing water, pond, swamp," perhaps from a PIE root *stag- "to seep drip" (cognates: Greek stazein "to ooze, drip;" see stalactite). Figurative use by 1709. Related: Stagnated; stagnating.
stagnation (n.)
1660s, noun of action from stagnate (v.).
stagy (adj.)
also stagey, 1845, from stage (n.) in the theatrical sense + -y (2). Related: Staginess.
staid (adj.)
1540s, "fixed, permanent," adjectival use of stayed, past participle of stay (v.). Meaning "sober, sedate" first recorded 1550s. Related: Staidly.
stain (v.)
late 14c., "damage or blemish the appearance of," probably representing a merger of Old Norse steina "to paint, color, stain," and a shortened form of Middle English disteynen "to discolor or stain," from Old French desteign-, stem of desteindre "to remove the color" (Modern French déteindre), from des- (from Latin dis- "remove;" see dis-) + Old French teindre "to dye," from Latin tingere (see tincture). Meaning "to color" (fabric, wood, etc.) is from 1650s. Intransitive sense "to become stained, take stain" is from 1877. Related: Stained; staining. Stained glass is attested from 1791.
stain (n.)
1560s, "act of staining," from stain (v.). Meaning "a stain mark, discoloration produced by foreign matter" is from 1580s. Meaning "dye used in staining" is from 1758.
stainless (adj.)
1580s, from stain (n.) + -less. Related: Stainlessly. Stainless steel is from 1917, a chromium-steel alloy (usually 14% chromium) used for cutlery, etc., so called because it is highly resistant to rust or tarnish.
stair (n.)
Old English stæger "stair, flight of steps, staircase," from Proto-Germanic *staigri (cognates: Middle Dutch stegher, Dutch steiger "a stair, step, quay, pier, scaffold;" German Steig "path," Old English stig "narrow path"), from PIE *steigh- "go, rise, stride, step, walk" (cognates: Greek steikhein "to go, march in order," stikhos "row, line, rank, verse;" Sanskrit stighnoti "mounts, rises, steps;" Old Church Slavonic stignati "to overtake," stigna "place;" Lithuanian staiga "suddenly;" Old Irish tiagaim "I walk;" Welsh taith "going, walk, way"). Originally also a collective plural; stairs developed by late 14c.
staircase (n.)
also stair-case, 1620s, originally the enclosure of the stairs, from stair + case (n.2) in its sense "frame;" compare former window-case, door-case.
stairway (n.)
1767, from stair + way (n.).
stairwell (n.)
by 1862, from stair + well (n.).
stake (n.1)
"pointed stick or post," Old English staca "pin, stake," from Proto-Germanic *stakon (cognates: Old Norse stiaki, Danish stage, Old Frisian stake, Middle Dutch stake, Dutch staak, German stake), from PIE root *steg- (1) "pole, stick." The Germanic word has been borrowed in Spanish (estaca), Old French (estaque), and Italian stacca) and was borrowed back as attach.

Meaning "post upon which persons were bound for death by burning" is recorded from c.1200. Meaning "vertical bar affixed to the edge of a platform of s truck, rail car, etc., to hold boards to keep the load from falling off" is from 1875; hence stake-body as a type of truck (1907). In pull up stakes, "The allusion is to pulling up the stakes of a tent" [Bartlett].
stake (v.1)
early 14c., "to mark (land) with stakes," from stake (n.1). Hence, to stake a claim (1857). Meaning "to maintain surveilance" (usually stake out) is first recorded 1942, American English colloquial, probably form earlier sense of "mark off territory." Related: Staked; staking. Old English had stacung "piercing of an effigy by a pin or stake" (in witchcraft); staccan "pierce with a stake, spit."
stake (v.2)
"to risk, wager," 1520s, perhaps from notion of "post on which a gambling wager was placed" (see stake (n.2)), though Weekley suggests "there is a tinge of the burning or baiting metaphor" in this usage. Meaning "to maintain surveillance" (usually stake out) is first recorded 1942, American English colloquial, probably form earlier sense of "mark off territory." Related: Staked; staking.
stake (n.2)
"that which is placed at hazard," 1530s, from stake (v.). Perhaps literally "that which is put up," from notion of "post on which a gambling wager was placed," though OED points out there is "no evidence of the existence of such a custom." Weekley suggests "there is a tinge of the burning or baiting metaphor" in this usage. Hence, "an interest, something to gain or lose" (1784). Plural stakes, "sum of money to be won in a (horse) race," first recorded 1690s (compare sweepstakes). To have a stake in is recorded from 1784.
stake-holder (n.)
1708, from stake (n.2) + agent noun from hold (v.). Originally one with whom bets are deposited when a wager is made.
stake-out (n.)
1942, from stake (v.2) + out (adv.).
Stakhanovite (n.)
1935, from name of hard-working Soviet coal miner Aleksei Grigorevich Stakhanov (1906-1977), in reference to an efficiency system in which workers increase their piecework production and are rewarded with bonuses and privileges. Soviet authorities publicized his prodigious output as part of a campaign to increase productivity.
stalactite (n.)
"hanging formation of carbonite of lime from the roof of a cave," 1670s, Englished from Modern Latin stalactites (used 1654 by Olaus Wormius), from Greek stalaktos "dripping, oozing out in drops," from stalassein "to trickle," from PIE root *stag- "to seep, drip, drop" (cognates: German stallen, Lithuanian telziu "to urinate") + noun suffix -ite (1). Related: Stalactic; stalactitic.
stalag (n.)
"German POW camp," 1940, from German Stalag, short for stammlager "main camp," from Old High German stam "stem," from Proto-Germanic *stamniz (see stem (n.)).
stalagmite (n.)
cone-shaped formation of carbonate of lime on the floor of a cave, 1680s, from Modern Latin stalagmites (1650s, Olaus Wormius), from Greek stalagmos "a dropping," or stalagma "a drop, drip, that which drops," from stalassein "to trickle" (see stalactite). Related: Stalagmitic; stalagmitical.
stale (adj.)
early 13c., "freed from dregs or lees" (of ale, wine, etc.), probably literally "having stood long enough to clear," ultimately from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet); probably via Old French estal "placed, fixed position," from Frankish *stal- "position" (see stall (n.1)). Cognate with Middle Dutch stel "stale" (of beer and old urine). Originally a desirable quality (in beer and wine); the meaning "not fresh" is first recorded late 15c. Figurative sense (of immaterial things) "old and trite, hackneyed" is recorded from 1560s. As a noun, "that which has become tasteless by exposure," hence "a prostitute" (in Shakespeare, etc.). Related: Staleness.
stale (v.)
mid-15c., from stale (adj.). Related: Staled; staling.
stalemate (n.)
1765, in chess, from stale "stalemate" (early 15c.) + mate (n.2) "checkmate." Middle English stale is probably from Anglo-French estale "standstill" (see stall (n.2)). A misnomer, because a stale is not a mate. "In England from the 17th c. to the beginning of the 19th c. the player who received stalemate won the game" [OED]. Figurative sense is recorded from 1885. As a verb from 1765; figurative from 1861.
Stalin
Russian, literally "steel," assumed name of Soviet Communist Party and Soviet Union leader Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (1879-1953). Also see Molotov.
Stalingrad
name of southern Russian city from 1925-1961, from Stalin (q.v.) + -grad (see yard (n.1)). Now Volgograd, formerly Tsaritsyn (1589), from Turkish sarisin "yellowish," in reference to the river water, but associated in Russian with Tsar.
Stalinism (n.)
1927, from Stalin + -ism. Related: Stalinist.
stalk (n.)
"stem of a plant," early 14c., probably a diminutive (with -k suffix) of stale "one of the uprights of a ladder, handle, stalk," from Old English stalu "wooden part" (of a tool or instrument), from Proto-Germanic *stalla- (cognates: Old English steala "stalk, support," steall "place"), from PIE *stol-no-, suffixed form of *stol-, variant of root *stel- "to put, stand" (see stall (n.1)). Of similar structures in animals from 1826.
stalk (v.1)
"pursue stealthily," Old English -stealcian, as in bestealcian "to steal along, walk warily," from Proto-Germanic *stalkon, frequentative of PIE *stel-, possibly a variant of *ster- (3) "to rob, steal" (see steal (v.)). Compare hark/hear, talk/tell). In another view the Old English word might be from a sense of stalk (v.1), influenced by stalk (n.). Meaning "harass obsessively" first recorded 1991. Related: Stalked; stalking.

A stalking-horse in literal use was a horse draped in trappings and trained to allow a fowler to conceal himself behind it to get within range of the game; figurative sense of "person who participates in a proceeding to disguise its real purpose" is recorded from 1610s.
stalk (v.2)
"walk haughtily" (nearly the opposite meaning of stalk (v.1)), 1520s, perhaps from stalk (n.) with a notion of "long, awkward strides," or from Old English stealcung "a stalking, act of going stealthily," related to stealc "steep, lofty."
stalker (n.)
early 15c., "a poacher;" also "one who prowls for purposes of theft" (c.1500), agent noun from stalk (v.1). Meaning "obsessive harasser" is from early 1990s.
stall (n.1)
"place in a stable for animals," Old English steall "standing place, position, state; place where cattle are kept, fishing ground," from Proto-Germanic *stalla- (cognates: Old Norse stallr "pedestal for idols, altar; crib, manger," Old Frisian stal, Old High German stall "stand, place, stable, stall," German Stall "stable," Stelle "place"), from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place (cognates: Greek stele "standing block, slab," stellein "to set in order, arrange, array, equip, make ready;" Latin stolidus "insensible, dull, brutish," properly "unmovable").

Meaning "partially enclosed seat in a choir" is attested from c.1400; that of "urinal in a men's room" is from 1967. Several meanings, including that of "a stand for selling" (mid-13c., implied in stallage), probably are from (or influenced by) Anglo-French and Old French estal "station, position; stall of a stable; stall in a market; a standing still; a standing firm" (12c., Modern French étal "butcher's stall"). This, along with Italian stallo "place," stalla "stable" is a borrowing from a Germanic source from the same root as the native English word.
stall (n.2)
"pretense or evasive story to avoid doing something," 1812, from earlier sense "thief's assistant" (1590s, also staller), from a variant of stale "bird used as a decoy to lure other birds" (mid-15c.), from Anglo-French estale "decoy, pigeon used to lure a hawk" (13c., compare stool pigeon), literally "standstill," from Old French estal "place, stand, stall," from Frankish *stal- "position," ultimately from Germanic and cognate with Old English steall (see stall (n.1)). Compare Old English stælhran "decoy reindeer," German stellvogel "decoy bird." Figurative sense of "deception, means of allurement" is first recorded 1520s. Also see stall (v.2).
The stallers up are gratified with such part of the gains acquired as the liberality of the knuckling gentlemen may prompt them to bestow. [J.H. Vaux, "Flash Dictionary," 1812]
stall (v.2)
1590s, "distract a victim and thus screen a pickpocket from observation," from stall (n.2) "decoy." Meaning "to precaricate, be evasive, play for time" is attested from 1903. Related: Stalled; stalling. Compare old slang stalling ken "house for receiving stolen goods" (1560s).
stall (v.1)
"to come to a stand" (intransitive), c.1400; "to become stuck or be set fast," mid-15c., from Old French estale or Old English steall (see stall (n.1)). Transitive sense "place in office, install" is 14c.; specifically "place an animal in a stall" (late 14c.). Of engines or engine-powered vehicles, it is attested from 1904 (transitive), 1914 (intransitive); of aircraft "to lose lift," 1910. Related: Stalled; stalling.
stall (n.3)
"action of losing lift, power, or motion," 1918 of aircraft, 1959 of automobile engines, from stall (v.1).
stallage (n.)
"tax levied for the privilege of erecting a stall at a market or fair," late 14c. (mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin), from stall (n.1) + -age.
stalling (n.)
"action of being evasive," 1927, verbal noun from stall (v.2).
stallion (n.)
mid-15c., earlier staloun (c.1300), "male horse kept for breeding purposes," from Anglo-French estaloun, Old French estalon "stallion, uncastrated male horse" (Modern French étalon), from Frankish *stal, cognate with Old High German stal "stable," from Proto-Germanic *stalla- (see stall (n.1)). The notion is probably of a horse kept in a stable to service mares. Transferred sense of "robustly lascivious man" is attested from 1550s.
stalwart (adj.)
late 14c., "resolute, determined," Scottish variant of stalworth, from Old English stælwierðe "good, serviceable," probably a contracted compound of staðol "base, foundation, support; stability, security" (from Proto-Germanic *stathlaz, from PIE root *sta- "to stand, set down, make or be firm;" see stet) + wierðe "good, excellent, worthy" (see worth). Another theory traces the first element of stælwierðe to Old English stæl "place," from Proto-Germanic *stælaz.
stamen (n.)
"pollen-bearing organ of a flower," 1660s, from Modern Latin (1625, Spigelus), from Latin stamen "stamen" (Pliny), literally "foundation in weaving, thread of the warp" in the upright loom (related to stare "to stand"), from PIE *sta-men- (cognates: Greek stemon "warp," also used by Hesychius for some part of a plant, Gothic stoma, Sanskrit sthaman "place," also "strength"), from root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). The usual English plural is stamens because of the special use of the classical plural, stamina.
stamina (n.)
1670s, "rudiments or original elements of something," from Latin stamina "threads," plural of stamen (genitive staminis) "thread, warp" (see stamen). Sense of "power to resist or recover, strength, endurance" first recorded 1726 (originally plural), from earlier meaning "congenital vital capacities of a person or animal;" also in part from use of the Latin word in reference to the threads spun by the Fates (such as queri nimio de stamine "too long a thread of life"), and partly from a figurative use of Latin stamen "the warp (of cloth)" on the notion of the warp as the "foundation" of a fabric. Related: Staminal.
Stammbaum (n.)
German, "family tree," especially of languages, 1939, from Stamm "tree, trunk" (see stem (n.)) + Baum "tree" (see beam (n.)).
stammer (v.)
Old English stamerian "to stammer," from Proto-Germanic *stamro- (cognates: Old Norse stammr "stammering," Old Saxon stamaron, Gothic stamms "stammering," Middle Dutch and Dutch stameren, Old High German stammalon, German stammeln "to stammer," a frequentative verb related to adjective forms such as Old Frisian and German stumm "mute"). Related: Stammered; stammerer; stammering; stammeringly.
stammer (n.)
1773, from stammer (v.).
stammtisch (n.)
1938, "table reserved for regular customers in a German restaurant," from German Stammtisch, from Stamm "cadre," literally "tree, trunk" (see stem (n.)) + tisch "table" (see dish (n.)).