steenbok (n.) Look up steenbok at
1775, from Afrikaans steenbok, from Middle Dutch steenboc "wild goat," literally "stone buck," cognate with Old English stanbucca "mountain goat," German Steinbock. See stone (n.) + buck (n.1).
steep (adj.) Look up steep at
"having a sharp slope," Old English steap "high, lofty; deep; prominent, projecting," from Proto-Germanic *staupaz (source also of Old Frisian stap "high, lofty," Middle High German *stouf), from PIE *steup-, extended form of 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"). The sense of "precipitous" is from c. 1200. The slang sense "at a high price" is a U.S. coinage first attested 1856. Related: Steeply; steepness. The noun meaning "steep place" is from 1550s.
steep (v.) Look up steep at
"to soak in a liquid," early 14c., of uncertain origin, originally in reference to barley or malt, probably cognate with Old Norse steypa "to pour out, throw" (perhaps from an unrecorded Old English cognate), from Proto-Germanic *staupijanan. Related: Steeped; steeping.
steepen (v.) Look up steepen at
1847, from steep (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Steepened; steepening.
steeple (n.) Look up steeple at
Old English stepel (Mercian), stiepel (West Saxon) "high tower," related to steap "high, lofty," from Proto-Germanic *staupilaz (see steep (adj.)). 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 using church, which had with them a more restricted meaning.
steeplechase (n.) Look up steeplechase at
1793 (earlier steeplehunt, 1772), from steeple + chase (n.). Originally an open-country horse race with a visible church steeple as a goal.
steeplejack (n.) Look up steeplejack at
"one who climbs steeples, chimneys, etc. to make repairs," 1881, from steeple + jack (n.) "fellow, man."
steepness (n.) Look up steepness at
mid-15c., from steep (adj.) + -ness.
steer (n.) Look up steer at
"young ox," Old English steor "bullock," from Proto-Germanic *steuraz (source also of Old Saxon stior, Old Norse stjorr, Swedish tjur, Danish tyr, Middle Dutch, Dutch, German stier, Gothic stiur "bull"), perhaps from PIE *steu-ro-, denoting "larger domestic animal" (see Taurus). In U.S. of male beef cattle of any age.
steer (v.) Look up steer at
"guide the course of a vehicle," originally by a rudder or something like it, Old English steran (Mercian), stieran (West Saxon) "steer, guide, direct; govern, rule; restrain, correct, punish," from Proto-Germanic *steurjan (source also of Old Norse styra, Old Frisian stiora, Dutch sturen, Old High German stiuren, German steuern "to steer," Gothic stiurjan "to establish, assert"), related to *steuro "a rudder, a steering," from PIE *steu-ro- (source also of Greek stauros "stake, pole"), extended form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

The notion is of a stiff, upright pillar or post used in steering, or else perhaps "establish," hence "direct, steer." Intransitive sense also was in Old English. To steer clear of in the figurative sense of "to avoid completely" is recorded from 1723. Related: Steered; steering.
steerable (adj.) Look up steerable at
1836, originally of balloons, from steer (v.) + -able.
steerage (n.) Look up steerage at
c. 1400, "steering apparatus of a ship;" mid-15c., "action of steering," from steer (v.) + -age. Meaning "part of a ship in front of the chief cabin" is from 1610s; originally in the rear of the ship where the steering apparatus was, it retained the name after the introduction of the deck wheel in early 18c.; hence meaning "section of a ship with the cheapest accommodations," first recorded 1804, later found in the front part of a ship.
steering (n.) Look up steering at
early 13c., verbal noun from steer (v.). Steering-wheel attested from 1750. Steering committee in the U.S. political sense is recorded from 1887.
stegosaurus (n.) Look up stegosaurus at
type of plant-eating dinosaur, 1892, from Modern Latin order name Stegosauria (O.C. Marsh, 1877), from Greek stegos "a roof" (related to stege "covering," stegein "to cover," from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover" + -saurus. The back-armor plates in the fossilized remains look like roof tiles.
stein (n.) Look up stein at
earthenware mug, 1855, from German Stein, shortened form of Steinkrug "stone jug," from Stein "stone" (see stone (n.)) + Krug "jug, jar." Compare Old English stæne "pitcher, jug."
steinbock (n.) Look up steinbock at
German; see steenbok.
Steinway (n.) Look up Steinway at
make of pianos, from Henry Englehard Steinway (1797-1871), celebrated German piano-builder who founded the firm in New York in 1853.
stele (n.) Look up stele at
"upright slab," usually inscribed, 1820, from Greek stele "standing block, slab," especially one bearing an inscription, such as a gravestone, from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand" (see stall (n.1)). Related: Stelar.
stell (v.) Look up stell at
"to fix in position" (obsolete or dialectal), Old English stellan "to place, put, set," from Proto-Germanic *stalljan (source also of German stellen; see stall (n.1)).
Stella Look up Stella at
fem. proper name, from Latin stella "star" (see star (n.)).
stellar (adj.) Look up stellar at
1650s, "pertaining to stars, star-like," from Late Latin stellaris "pertaining to a star, starry," from stella "star," from PIE *sterla-, suffixed form of root *ster- (2) "star." Meaning "outstanding, leading" (1883) is from the theatrical sense of star.
stellate (adj.) Look up stellate at
c. 1500, "starry, star-spangled," from Latin stellatus "covered with stars," past participle of stellare "to set with stars," from stella "star" (*ster- (2) "star"). Meaning "star-shaped" is recorded from 1660s.
stem (v.1) Look up stem at
"to hold back," early 14c., from a Scandinavian source, such as Old Norse stemma "to stop, dam up; be stopped, abate," from Proto-Germanic *stamjan (source also of Swedish stämma, Old Saxon stemmian, Middle Dutch stemon, German stemmen "stop, resist, oppose"), from PIE root *stem- "to strike against something" (source also of Lithuanian stumiu "thrust, push"). Not connected to stem (n.). Related: Stemmed; stemming. Phrase to stem the tide is literally "to hold back the tide," but often is confused with stem (v.2) "make headway against."

Verbal phrase stems from (1932, American English), perhaps is from stem (v.) in the sense "to rise, mount up, have origin in" (1570s), or is influenced by or translates German stammen aus, probably from a figurative sense represented by English stem (n.) in the sense of "stock of a family, line of descent" (c. 1540; compare family tree, and German stammvater "tribal ancestor," literally "stem-father").
stem (v.2) Look up stem at
"make headway by sailing, head in a certain course," late 14c., literally "to push the stem through," from stem (n.) in the "ship post" sense (here the post at the prow of the ship). Related: Stemmed; stemming.
stem (n.) Look up stem at
Old English stemn, stefn "stem of a plant, trunk of a tree," also "either end-post of a ship," from Proto-Germanic *stamniz (source also of Old Saxon stamm, Old Norse stafn "stem of a ship;" Danish stamme, Swedish stam "trunk of a tree;" Old High German stam, German Stamm), from suffixed form of PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

Meaning "support of a wineglass" is from 1835. Meaning "unchanging part of a word" is from 1830. Stems slang for "legs" is from 1860. The nautical sense is preserved in the phrase stem to stern "along the full length" (of a ship), attested from 1620s. Stem cell attested by 1885.
stem-winder (n.) Look up stem-winder at
"excellent thing" (especially a rousing speech), 1892, from stem-winding watches (1875), which were advanced and desirable when introduced. See stem (n.) + wind (v.1).
Sten (n.) Look up Sten at
type of light, rapid-fire submachine gun, 1942, from initials of surnames of designers R.V. Shepherd and H.J. Turpin + En(field); compare Bren.
stench (n.) Look up stench at
Old English stenc "a smell, odor, scent, fragrance" (either pleasant or unpleasant), from Proto-Germanic *stankwiz (source also of Old Saxon stanc, Old High German stanch, German stank). Related to stincan "emit a smell" (see stink (v.)) as drench is to drink. It tended toward "bad smell" in Old English (as a verb, only with this sense), and the notion of "evil smell" has predominated since c. 1200.
stencil (v.) Look up stencil at
"to produce a design with a stencil," 1861, from stencil (n.). Related: Stenciled; stenciling (1781 as a verbal noun).
stencil (n.) Look up stencil at
1707, not recorded again until 1848, probably from Middle English stencellen "decorate with bright colors," from Middle French estenceler "cover with sparkles or stars, powder with color," from estencele "spark, spangle" (Modern French étincelle), from Vulgar Latin *stincilla, metathesis of Latin scintilla "spark" (see scintilla).
steno- Look up steno- at
before vowels sten-, word-forming element meaning "narrow," from Greek stenos "narrow, strait," as a noun "straits of the sea, narrow strip of land," also metaphorically, "close, confined; scanty, petty," from PIE *sten- "narrow."
stenographer (n.) Look up stenographer at
1796, agent noun formation from stenography.
stenography (n.) Look up stenography at
"shorthand," c. 1600, from steno- "narrow" + -graphy. Related: Stenographic; stenographical.
stenosis (n.) Look up stenosis at
1846, medical Latin, from Greek stenosis "narrowing," from stenoun "to narrow," from stenos "narrow" (see steno-) + -osis.
stent (n.) Look up stent at
"tube implanted temporarily," 1964, named for Charles T. Stent (1807-1885), English dentist.
stentorian (adj.) Look up stentorian at
"of powerful voice," c. 1600, from Stentor, legendary Greek herald in the Trojan War, whose voice (described in the "Iliad") was as loud as 50 men. His name is from Greek stenein "groan, moan," from PIE imitative root *(s)ten-, source of Old English þunor "thunder."
step (n.) Look up step at
Old English steppa (Mercian), stæpe, stepe (West Saxon) "stair, act of stepping," from the source of step (v.). Compare Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Dutch stap, Old High German stapfo, German Stapfe "footstep"). From late Old English as "degree on a scale." Figurative meaning "action which leads toward a result" is recorded from 1540s. In dancing, from 1670s. Meaning "type of military pace" is from 1798. Warning phrase watch your step is attested from 1911 (Wyclif (late 14c.) has keep thy foot in essentially the same sense). Step by step indicating steady progression is from 1580s. To follow in (someone's) steps is from mid-13c.
step (v.) Look up step at
Old English steppan (Anglian), stæppan (West Saxon) "take a step," from West Germanic *stap- "tread" (source also of Old Frisian stapa, Middle Dutch, Dutch stappen, Old High German stapfon, German stapfen "step"), from PIE root *stebh- "post, stem; to support, place firmly on" (see staff (n.); source also of Old Church Slavonic stopa "step, pace," stepeni "step, degree"). The notion is perhaps "a treading firmly on; a foothold."

Transitive sense (as in step foot in) attested from 1530s. Related: Stepped; stepping. Originally strong (past tense stop, past participle bestapen); weak forms emerged 13c., universal from 16c. To step out "leave for a short time" is from 1530s; meaning "to go out in public in style" is from 1907. Step on it "hurry up" is 1923, from notion of gas pedal.
step- Look up step- at
Old English steop-, with connotations of "loss," in combinations like steopcild "orphan," related to astiepan, bestiepan "to bereave, to deprive of parents or children," from Proto-Germanic *steupa- "bereft" (source also of Old Frisian stiap-, Old Norse stjup-, Swedish styv-, Middle Low German stef-, Dutch stief-, Old High German stiof-, German stief-), literally "pushed out," from PIE *steup-, from root *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock," with derivatives referring to fragments (see steep (adj.)). Barnhart suggests the forms in -f- are by assimilation of the first sound in following words for "father."

Etymologically, a stepfather or stepmother is one who becomes father or mother to an orphan, but the notion of orphanage faded in 20c. and came to denote simply relation through marriage. For sense evolution, compare Latin privignus "stepson," related to privus "deprived." Compare orphan (n.).
step-dance (n.) Look up step-dance at
one in which the steps are more important than the figure, especially one with difficult steps, 1857, from step (n.) + dance (n.). Related: Step-dancing (1872).
step-daughter (n.) Look up step-daughter at
Old English stepdohtor; see step- + daughter (n.). Similar formation in German Stieftochter.
step-ladder (n.) Look up step-ladder at
also stepladder, one with flat steps instead of rungs, 1728, from step (n.) + ladder.
step-sister (n.) Look up step-sister at
also stepsister, mid-15c., from step- + sister (n.).
step-son (n.) Look up step-son at
also stepson, Old English steopsunu; see step- + son.
stepbrother (n.) Look up stepbrother at
also step-brother, mid-15c., from step- + brother (n.).
stepchild (n.) Look up stepchild at
also step-child, Old English steopcild; see step- + child (n.). Old English also had steopbearn. Similar formation in German Stiefkind.
stepfather (n.) Look up stepfather at
also step-father, Old English steopfæder; see step- + father.
Stephanie Look up Stephanie at
fem. proper name, female form of Stephen. A top-20 name for girls born in U.S. 1969-1996.
Stephen Look up Stephen at
masc. proper name, from Latin Stephanus, from Greek Stephanos, from stephanos "crown, wreath, garland, chaplet; crown of victory," hence "victory, prize, honor, glory," properly "that which surrounds;" also used of the ring of spectators around a fight or the wall of a town, from stephein "to encircle, crown, wreathe, tie around," from PIE root *stebh- "post, stem; place firmly on, fasten" (see step (v.)). Exclusively a monk's name in Old English, it became common after the Conquest. Saint Stephen, stoned to death, was said to be Christianity's first martyr.
Stepin Fetchit Look up Stepin Fetchit at
type of stereotypical black roles in Hollywood, or in popular culture generally, from stage name (a play on step and fetch it) of popular black vaudeville actor Lincoln Theodore Perry (1902-1985), who first appeared in films under that name in "In Old Kentucky" (1927). Perry said he took the name from a racehorse on which he'd won some money.