- 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 (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 (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.