Etymology
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stable (v.)

"to put in a certain place or position," c. 1300; "to put (a horse) in a stable," early 14c., from stable (n.) or from Old French establer. Related: Stabled; stabling.

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stable (n.)

early 13c., "building or enclosure where horses or cows are kept, building for domestic animals," from Old French stable, estable "a stable, stall" (Modern French étable), also applied to cowsheds and pigsties, from Latin stabulum "a stall, fold, aviary, beehive, lowly cottage, brothel, etc.," literally "a standing place," from PIE *ste-dhlo-, suffixed form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

Meaning "collection of horses belonging to one stable" is attested from 1570s; transferred sense of "group of fighters under same management" is from 1897; that of "group of prostitutes working for the same employer" is from 1937.

For what the grete Stiede
Is stole, thanne he taketh hiede,
And makth the stable dore fast.
[John Gower, "Confessio Amantis," 1390]
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stable (adj.)

mid-12c., "trustworthy, reliable;" mid-13c., "constant, steadfast; virtuous;" from Old French stable, estable "constant, steadfast, unchanging," from Latin stabilis "firm, steadfast, stable, fixed," figuratively "durable, unwavering," literally "able to stand," from PIE *stedhli-, suffixed form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." From c. 1300 as "well-founded, well-established, secure" (of governments, etc.). Physical sense of "secure against falling" is recorded from late 14c.; also "of even temperament." Of nuclear isotopes, from 1904.

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instable (adj.)

c. 1400, from Latin instabilis "unsteady, not firm, inconstant, fickle," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + stabilis (see stable (adj.)). Now mostly replaced by unstable.

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instability (n.)

early 15c., from Old French instabilité "inconstancy" (15c.) or directly from Latin instabilitatem (nominative instabilitas) "unsteadiness," from instabilis "unsteady, not firm, inconstant, fickle," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + stabilis (see stable (adj.)).

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establish (v.)

late 14c., from Old French establiss-, present participle stem of establir "cause to stand still, establish, stipulate, set up, erect, build" (12c., Modern French établir), from Latin stabilire "make stable," from stabilis "stable" (see stable (adj.)). For the unetymological e-, see e-. Related: Established; establishing. An established church or religion is one sanctioned by the state.

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unstable (adj.)

early 13c., "apt to move," from un- (1) "not" + stable (adj.). Similar formation in Middle High German unstabel. Meaning "liable to fall" is recorded from c. 1300; sense of "fickle" is attested from late 13c. An Old English word for this was feallendlic, which might have become *fally.

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stability (n.)

mid-14c., "firmness of resolve, mental equilibrium" (of persons), from Old French stablete, establete "firmness, solidity, stability; durability, constancy" (Modern French stabilité), from Latin stabilitatem (nominative stabilitas) "a standing fast, firmness," figuratively "security, steadfastness," from stabilis "steadfast, firm" (see stable (adj.)). In physical sense, "state of being difficult to overthrow, power of remaining upright," it is recorded from early 15c. Meaning "continuance in the same state" is from 1540s.

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constable (n.)

c. 1200, "chief household officer;" c. 1300, "justice of the peace," from Old French conestable (12c., Modern French connétable), "steward, governor," principal officer of the Frankish king's household, from Medieval Latin conestabulus, from Late Latin comes stabuli, literally "count of the stable" (established by Theodosian Code, c. 438 C.E.), hence, "chief groom."

For first element, see count (n.1). Second element is from Latin stabulum "stable, standing place" (see stable (n.)). Probably the whole is a loan-translation of a Germanic word. Compare marshal (n.).

Meaning "an officer chosen to serve minor legal process" is from c. 1600, transferred to "police officer" by 1836. French reborrowed constable 19c. as "English police."

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