stealth (n.) Look up stealth at
mid-13c., "theft, action or practice of stealing," from a probable Old English *stælþ, which is related to stelen (see steal (v.)), from Proto-Germanic *stælitho (cognates: Old Norse stulþr), with Proto-Germanic abstract noun suffix *-itho (see -th (2)).

Compare heal/health, weal/wealth. Sense of "secret action" developed c. 1300, but the word also retained its etymological sense into 18c. Got a boost as an adjective from stealth fighter, stealth bomber, radar-evading U.S. military aircraft, activated 1983.
stealthy (adj.) Look up stealthy at
c. 1600, from stealth + -y (2). Related: Stealthily; stealthiness.
steam (n.) Look up steam at
Old English steam "vapor, fume, water in a gaseous state," from Proto-Germanic *staumaz (cognates: Dutch stoom "steam"), of unknown origin. Meaning "vapor of boiling water used to drive an engine" is from 1690s, hence steam age (1828) and many figurative uses, such as let off steam (1831, literal), blow off steam (1857, figurative), full-steam (1878), get up steam (1887, figurative). Steam heat is from 1820s in thermodynamics; as a method of temperature control from 1904.
We have given her six months to consider the matter, and in this steam age of the world, no woman ought to require a longer time to make up her mind. [Sarah Josepha Hale, "Sketches of American Character," 1828]
steam (v.) Look up steam at
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 from 1922. Related: Steamed; steaming.
steam-engine (n.) Look up steam-engine at
1751; earlier in the same sense was fire-engine (1722), atmospheric engine.
steam-roller (n.) Look up steam-roller at
also steamroller, 1866, from steam (n.) + roller. As a verb, first recorded 1912 (steam-roll (v.) is from 1879). Related: Steam-rollered.
steam-whistle (n.) Look up steam-whistle at
1840, from steam (n.) + whistle (n.).
steamboat (n.) Look up steamboat at
1787, from steam + boat (n.).
steamer (n.) Look up steamer at
1814 in the cookery sense, agent noun from steam (v.). From 1825 as "a vessel propelled by steam," hence steamer trunk (1885), one that carries the essentials for a voyage.
steampunk (n.) Look up steampunk at
also steam-punk, by 1992, perhaps 1989, from steam (as in Age of Steam) + punk (n.), probably on model of cyberpunk (1986).
steamship (n.) Look up steamship at
also steam-ship, 1819, from steam (n.) + ship (n.).
steamy (adj.) Look up steamy at
1640s, "vaporous, misty, abounding in steam," from steam + -y (2); in the sense of "erotic, sexy," it is first recorded 1952. Related: Steamily; steaminess.
stearin (n.) Look up stearin at
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 pimele "soft fat, lard;" compare Latin sebum/adeps), possibly from PIE *stai- "stone," also "to thicken, stiffen" (see stone (n.)). Stearic (1831) is from French stéarique.
steatopygia (n.) Look up steatopygia at
"abnormal accumulation of fat on the buttocks of certain races," 1822, Modern Latin, from steato- "fat, tallow," comb. form of Greek stear (genitive steatos) "solid fat, suet" (see stearin) + Greek pyge "rump, buttocks" + abstract noun ending -ia. Related: Steatopygous "having enormously fat buttocks" [Century Dictionary]; steatopygy.
steed (n.) Look up steed at
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.
steel (n.) Look up steel at
modified form of iron with a small portion of carbon, not found in nature but known in ancient times, Old English style "steel," from noun use of Proto-Germanic adjective *stakhlijan "made of steel" (cognates: Old Saxon stehli, Old Norse, Middle Low German stal, Danish staal, Swedish stål, Middle Dutch stael, Dutch staal, Old High German stahal, German Stahl), 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 except those likely borrowed from Germanic languages.

As an adjective from c. 1200 (Old English used stylen "*steel-en." Steel wool is attested from 1896. Steel drum is from 1952.
steel (v.) Look up steel at
"make hard or strong like steel," 1580s, earliest use is figurative, from steel (n.). Old English lacked the verb but had styled "made of steel." Related: Steeled; steeling.
steely (adj.) Look up steely at
1580s, "made of steel," from steel (n.) + -y (2). Figurative meaning "hard and cold as steel" is from c. 1500. Related: Steeliness.
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 (cognates: 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 (cognates: 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 (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 (cognates: 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- (cognates: Greek stauros "stake, pole"), extended form of root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).

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.
steer (n.) Look up steer at
"young ox," Old English steor "bullock," from Proto-Germanic *steuraz (cognates: 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.
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 comb. form of Greek stegos "a roof" (related to stege "covering," stegein "to cover," from PIE root *(s)teg- (2) "to cover," especially "cover with a roof" (cognates: Sanskrit sthag- "cover, conceal, hide;" Latin tegere "to cover;" Lithuanian stegti "roof;" Old Norse þekja, Old English þeccan "thatch;" Dutch dekken, German decken "to cover, put under roof;" Irish tuigiur "cover," tech "house;" Welsh toi "thatch, roof," ty "house") + -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 West 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" (see star (n.)). 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 (see star (n.)). Meaning "star-shaped" is recorded from 1660s.
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 (cognates: 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" (see stet).

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 (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 (cognates: Swedish stämma, Old Saxon stemmian, Middle Dutch stemon, German stemmen "stop, resist, oppose"), from PIE root *stem- "to strike against something" (cognates: 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; cognates: 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-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 (cognates: 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 (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).
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).
steno- Look up steno- at
before vowels sten-, word-forming element meaning "narrow," from comb. form of 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.