1520s, deformed (by influence of stark (adj.)) from Middle English start naked (early 13c.), from Old English steort "tail, rump," from Proto-Germanic *stertaz (source also of Old Norse stertr, Danish stjert, Middle Dutch stert, Dutch staart, Old High German sterz, German Sterz), from PIE *sterd-, extended form of root *ster- (1) "stiff." Hence British slang starkers "naked" (1923).
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