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.
Of uncertain relationship to similar words in Romance languages (Italian stufa, French étuve "sweating-room;" see stew (v.)). One theory traces them all to Vulgar Latin *extufare "take a steam bath." The meaning "device for heating or cooking" is first recorded 1610s.
1840, "sailor's stew made of meat, vegetables, and hardtack," short for lobscouse (1706), a word of uncertain origin (compare loblolly).
Lobscouse. A dish much eaten at sea, composed of salt beef, biscuit and onions, well peppered, and stewed together. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1788]
Transferred sense of "native or inhabitant of Liverpool" (where the stew is a characteristic dish) is recorded by 1945; in reference to the regional dialect by 1963. Related: Scouser (1959)
"a stew of meat cut into small pieces," 1660s, from hash (v.). Meaning "a mix, a mess" is from 1735. Cryptographic use in computing is by 1979.
also pot-pourri, 1610s, "mixed meats and vegetables cooked together and served in a stew," from French pot pourri "stew," literally "rotten pot" (loan-translation of Spanish olla podrida), from pourri, past participle of pourrir "to rot," from Vulgar Latin *putrire, from Latin putrescere "grow rotten" (see putrescent). The notion of "medley" led to the meaning "mixture of dried flowers and spices," attested in English by 1749. Figurative sense (originally in music) of "miscellaneous collection" is recorded from 1855.