stepmother (n.) Look up stepmother at
also step-mother, Old English steopmodor; see step- + mother (n.1). Associated with parsimony and cruelty at least since Middle English.
Is Moder was ded, his fader nam an oþur wijf. ... seint Edward heo louede luyte, for stepmoder is selde guod. ["South English Legendary," c. 1300]
steppe (n.) Look up steppe at
vast treeless plain of southeastern Europe and of Asia, 1670s, from German steppe and directly from Russian step', of unknown origin. Introduced in Western Europe by von Humboldt.
stepper (n.) Look up stepper at
"horse with a showy gait," 1835, agent noun from step (v.).
stepping (n.) Look up stepping at
early 14c., verbal noun from step (v.). Stepping stone first recorded early 14c.; in the figurative sense 1650s.
stercoraceous (adj.) Look up stercoraceous at
"consisting of or pertaining to feces," 1731, from Latin stercus (genitive stercoris) "dung" (from metathesized form of PIE *skert-, extended form of root *sker- (4) "excrement, dung") + -aceous.
stere (n.) Look up stere at
unit of the metric system for solid measure, 1798, from French stère "unit of volume equal to one cubic meter," from Greek stereos "solid, stiff, firm" (from PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff"). Little used, cubic meter generally serving instead.
stereo Look up stereo at
1823 as a shortening of stereotype (n.); 1876 as a shortening of stereoscope; 1954 as a shortening of stereophonic (adj.); the noun meaning "stereophonic record or tape player" is recorded from 1964.
stereo- Look up stereo- at
before vowels stere-, word-forming element meaning "solid, firm; three-dimensional; stereophonic," from Greek stereos "solid" (from PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff").
stereophonic (adj.) Look up stereophonic at
1927, from stereo- + phonic. Related: Stereophony (1950); stereophonics (1958).
stereoptican (n.) Look up stereoptican at
"double magic lantern producing dissolving views or impressions of three-dimensionality to pictured objects," 1858, from stereo- + Greek optikon, neuter of optikos "pertaining to sight" (from PIE root *okw- "to see").
stereoscope (n.) Look up stereoscope at
1838, coined by inventor Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) from stereo- + -scope. Instrument allowing binocular vision of two identical pictures that appear as a single image with relief and solidity. Related: Stereoscopy; stereoscopically.
stereoscopic (adj.) Look up stereoscopic at
1852, from stereoscope + -ic.
stereotype (n.) Look up stereotype at
1798, "method of printing from a plate," from French stéréotype (adj.) "printed by means of a solid plate of type," from Greek stereos "solid" (see stereo-) + French type "type" (see type (n.)). Meaning "a stereotype plate" is from 1817. Meaning "image perpetuated without change" is first recorded 1850, from the verb in this sense. Meaning "preconceived and oversimplified notion of characteristics typical of a person or group" is recorded from 1922.
stereotype (v.) Look up stereotype at
1804, "to cast a stereotype plate," from stereotype (n.). From 1819 in the figurative sense "fix firmly or unchangeably." By 1953 as "assign preconceived and oversimplified notion of characteristics typical of a person or group." Related: Stereotyped; stereotyping.
stereotypical (adj.) Look up stereotypical at
1949, in the figurative sense, from stereotype (n.) + -ical. Stereotypic is from 1801 in the literal sense.
stereotyping (n.) Look up stereotyping at
1807, verbal noun from stereotype (v.). Figurative sense from 1888.
sterile (adj.) Look up sterile at
mid-15c., "barren," from Middle French stérile "not producing fruit," from Latin sterilis "barren, unproductive, unfruitful; unrequited; unprofitable," from PIE *ster- "lacking, sterile," source also of Sanskrit starih "a barren cow," Greek steira "sterile, infertile" (of a cow, goat, woman), Armenian sterj "infertile," perhaps ultimately from root *ster- (1) "stiff." Originally in English with reference to soil; of persons (chiefly females), from 1530s. The sense of "sterilized, free from living germs" is first recorded 1877.
sterilise (v.) Look up sterilise at
chiefly British English spelling of sterilize; for suffix, see -ize. Related: Sterilisation; sterilised; sterilising.
sterility (n.) Look up sterility at
early 15c., from Middle French sterilite, from Latin sterilitatem (nominative sterilitas) "unfruitfulness, barrenness," from sterilis (see sterile).
sterilization (n.) Look up sterilization at
1826, noun of action from sterilize.
sterilize (v.) Look up sterilize at
"destroy the fertility of," 1690s (in reference to soil), from French stériliser or else from sterile + -ize; of living things from 1828. Meaning "render free of micro-organisms" is from 1878. Related: Sterilized; sterilizing.
sterling (n.) Look up sterling at
c. 1300, "silver penny," perhaps from Middle English sterre (see star (n.)), according to OED "presumably" from the stars that appeared in the design of certain Norman coins, + diminutive suffix -ling. But starred coins were not especially common among Anglo-Saxon currency, and the stars on them tended to be small. The other theory [Kluge] is that it derives from Old French estedre "stater" (see stater). Sense broadened by 1560s to "money having the quality of the sterling," and c. 1600 to "English money in general." As an adjective from early 15c. From 1640s in general sense of "capable of standing a test" (as a sound coin would). A pound sterling was originally "a pound weight of sterlings," equal to about 240 of them.
stern (n.) Look up stern at
early 13c., "hind part of a ship; steering gear of a ship," probably from a Scandinavian source, such as Old Norse stjorn "a steering," related to or derived from styra "to guide" (see steer (v.)). Or the word may come from Old Frisian stiarne "rudder," which also is related to steer (v.). Stern-wheeler as a type of steam-boat is from 1855, American English.
stern (adj.) Look up stern at
Old English styrne "severe, strict, grave, hard, cruel," from Proto-Germanic *sternjaz (source also of Middle High German sterre, German starr "stiff," störrig "obstinate;" Gothic andstaurran "to be stiff;" Old Norse stara; Old English starian "to look or gaze upon"), from PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff." Related: Sternly; sternness.
Stern gang (n.) Look up Stern gang at
militant Zionist terrorist organization (officially Lohame Herut Yisra'el "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel") founded 1940 by Avram Stern (1907-1942).
Sterno (n.) Look up Sterno at
U.S. proprietary name for solidified alcohol used as fuel for cooking stoves, 1915, by S. Sternau & Co., New York, N.Y. Noted by 1935 as a source of dangerous but cheap alcohol for drinking.
sternocleidomastoid (adj.) Look up sternocleidomastoid at
medical Latin, from sterno- "sternum," Greek sternon "breast, breastbone," or Latin sternum (see sternum) + Latinized Greek kleis (see clavicle) + mastoid.
sternum (n.) Look up sternum at
"breastbone," 1660s, from Greek sternon "chest, breast, breastbone" (in Homer, only of males), also "the breast as the seat of affections," related to stornynai "to spread out," from PIE *ster-no- "to stretch, extend," from root *stere- "to spread," on the notion of the chest as broad and flat, as opposed to the neck. Related: Sternal.
sternward (adj.) Look up sternward at
1832, from stern (n.) + -ward.
steroid (n.) Look up steroid at
naturally occuring substance based on a carbon skeleton similar to that of sterol molecules, 1936, from sterol + -oid "resembling." Related: Steroids.
sterol (n.) Look up sterol at
"white, crystalline substance discovered in gallstones," 1913, abstracted from cholesterol.
stertorous (adj.) Look up stertorous at
"characterized by snoring," 1802, from Modern Latin stertor (from Latin stertere "to snore," from PIE imitative root *pster-) + -ous. Related: Stertorously; stertorousness.
stet Look up stet at
direction to printer to disregard correction made to text, 1755, from Latin stet "let it stand," third person singular present subjunctive of stare "to stand, stand upright, be stiff," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."
stethoscope (n.) Look up stethoscope at
instrument for examining the chest, 1820, from French stéthoscope, coined 1819 by its inventor, French physician René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec (1781-1826) from Greek stethos "chest, breast" + -scope. Greek stethos is perhaps related to sternon (see sternum); it meant "front of the chest," and was only rarely used of a woman's breasts, but in Modern Greek it became the preferred polite term. Related: Stethoscopic; stethoscopy.
Stetson Look up Stetson at
1902, trademark name, from John B. Stetson (1830-1906), U.S. hat manufacturer, who started his company in Philadelphia in 1865.
stevedore (n.) Look up stevedore at
1828, earlier stowadore (1788), from Spanish estibador "one who loads cargo, wool-packer," agent noun from estibar "to stow cargo," from Latin stipare "pack down, press" (see stiff (adj.)).
Steven Look up Steven at
masc. proper name, Englished form of Stephen (q.v.). A top 20 name for boys born in the U.S. between 1949 and 1976; the -ph- form was the more popular in U.S. until 1960s.
stew (n.) Look up stew at
c. 1300, "vessel for cooking," from stew (v.). Later "heated room," especially for bathing (late 14c.). The meaning "stewed meat with vegetables" is first recorded 1756. The obsolete slang meaning "brothel" (mid-14c., usually plural, stews) is from a parallel sense of "public bath house" (mid-14c.), carried over from Old French estuve "bath, bath house; bawdy house," reflecting the reputation of medieval bath houses.
stew (v.) Look up stew at
late 14c., transitive "to bathe (a person or a body part) in a steam bath," from Old French estuver "have a hot bath, plunge into a bath; stew" (Modern French étuver), of uncertain origin. Common Romanic (cognates: Spanish estufar, Italian stufare), possibly from Vulgar Latin *extufare "evaporate," from ex- "out" + *tufus "vapor, steam," from Greek typhos "smoke." Compare Old English stuf-bæþ "hot-air bath;" see stove.

Intransitive use from 1590s. Meaning "to boil slowly, to cook meat by simmering it in liquid" is attested from early 15c. The meaning "to be left to the consequences of one's actions" is from 1650s, especially in figurative expression to stew in one's own juices. Related: Stewed; stewing. Slang stewed "drunk" first attested 1737.
steward (n.) Look up steward at
Old English stiward, stigweard "house guardian, housekeeper," from stig "hall, pen for cattle, part of a house" (see sty (n.1)) + weard "guard" (from Proto-Germanic *wardaz "guard," from PIE root *wer- (3) "perceive, watch out for").

Used after the Conquest as the equivalent of Old French seneschal (q.v.). Meaning "overseer of workmen" is attested from c. 1300. The sense of "officer on a ship in charge of provisions and meals" is first recorded mid-15c.; extended to trains 1906. This was the title of a class of high officers of the state in early England and Scotland, hence meaning "one who manages affairs of an estate on behalf of his employer" (late 14c.). Meaning "person who supervises arrangements" at a meeting, dinner, etc., is from 1703.

The Scottish form (with terminal -t attested from late 14c.) is reflected in Stewart, name of the royal house descended from Walter (the) Steward, who married (1315) Marjorie de Bruce, daughter of King Robert. Stuart is a French spelling, attested from 1429 and adopted by Mary, Queen of Scots.
stewardess (n.) Look up stewardess at
1630s, "female steward," from steward (n.) + -ess. Meaning "female attendant on passenger aircraft" is from 1931; used of ships (where she waited on the female passengers) from 1837.
stewardship (n.) Look up stewardship at
"position or responsibilities of a steward," mid-15c., from steward (n.) + -ship. Specific ecclesiastical sense of "responsible use of resources in the service of God" is from 1899.
stichic (adj.) Look up stichic at
"made up of lines," 1844 (stichical is from 1787), from Greek stikhikos "of lines, of verses," from stikhos "row, line, rank, verse," related to steikhein "to go, to march in order," from PIE root *steigh- "go, rise, stride, step, walk" (see stair).
stichomythia (n.) Look up stichomythia at
"dialogue in alternate lines," Latinized from Greek stikhomythia, from stikhos (see stichic) + mythos "speech, talk" (see myth) + abstract noun ending -ia. Related: Stichomythic.
stick (v.) Look up stick at
Old English stician "to pierce, stab, transfix, goad," also "to remain embedded, stay fixed, be fastened," from Proto-Germanic *stik- "pierce, prick, be sharp" (source also of Old Saxon stekan, Old Frisian steka, Dutch stecken, Old High German stehhan, German stechen "to stab, prick"), from PIE *steig- "to stick; pointed" (source also of Latin instigare "to goad," instinguere "to incite, impel;" Greek stizein "to prick, puncture," stigma "mark made by a pointed instrument;" Old Persian tigra- "sharp, pointed;" Avestan tighri- "arrow;" Lithuanian stingu "to remain in place;" Russian stegati "to quilt").

Figurative sense of "to remain permanently in mind" is attested from c. 1300. Transitive sense of "to fasten (something) in place" is attested from late 13c. Stick out "project" is recorded from 1560s. Slang stick around "remain" is from 1912; stick it as a rude item of advice is first recorded 1922. Related: Stuck; sticking. Sticking point, beyond which one refuses to go, is from 1956; sticking-place, where any thing put will stay is from 1570s. Modern use generally is an echo of Shakespeare.
stick (n.) Look up stick at
Old English sticca "rod, twig, peg; spoon," from Proto-Germanic *stikkon- "pierce, prick" (source also of Old Norse stik, Middle Dutch stecke, stec, Old High German stehho, German Stecken "stick, staff"), from PIE root *steig- "to stick; pointed" (see stick (v.)). Meaning "staff used in a game" is from 1670s (originally billiards); meaning "manual gearshift lever" first recorded 1914. Alliterative connection of sticks and stones is recorded from mid-15c.; originally "every part of a building." Stick-bug is from 1870, American English; stick-figure is from 1949.
stick-in-the-mud (n.) Look up stick-in-the-mud at
1852, from verbal phrase, stick (v.) on notion of "one who sticks in the mud," hence "one who is content to remain in an abject condition." The phrase appears in 1730, in city of London court records, as the alias of an accused named John Baker, who with two other men received a death sentence at the Old Bailey in December 1733 for "breaking open the House of Mr. Thomas Rayner, a Silversmith, and stealing thence Plate to a great Value."
stick-up (n.) Look up stick-up at
also stickup, 1857, "a stand-up collar," from verbal phrase (attested from early 15c.), from stick (v.) + up (adv.). The verbal phrase in the sense of "rob someone at gunpoint" is from 1846, hence the noun in this sense (1887). Stick up for "defend" is attested from 1823.
stickball (n.) Look up stickball at
also stick-ball, 1824, from stick (n.) + ball (n.1).
sticker (n.) Look up sticker at
1580s, "one who sticks," agent noun from stick (v.). Meaning "gummed adhesive label" is from 1871.