Etymology
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stale (adj.)

c. 1300, "freed from dregs or lees" (of ale, wine, etc.), probably literally "having stood long enough to clear," from Old French estale "settled, clear," from estal "place, fixed position," from Frankish *stal- "position," from Proto-Germanic *stol-, from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand, put in order," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place.

Cognate with Middle Dutch stel "stale" (of beer and old urine). Originally a desirable quality (in beer and wine); the meaning "not fresh" is first recorded late 15c. Figurative sense (of immaterial things) "old and trite, hackneyed" is recorded from 1560s. As a noun, "that which has become tasteless by exposure," hence "a prostitute" (in Shakespeare, etc.). Related: Staleness.

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stale (v.)
mid-15c., from stale (adj.). Related: Staled; staling.
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*stel- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to put, stand, put in order," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place.

It forms all or part of: apostle; catastaltic; diastole; epistle; forestall; Gestalt; install; installment; pedestal; peristalsis; peristaltic; stale (adj.); stalk (n.); stall (n.1) "place in a stable for animals;" stall (n.2) "pretense to avoid doing something;" stall (v.1) "come to a stop, become stuck;" stallage; stallion; stele; stell; still (adj.); stilt; stole (n.); stolid; stolon; stout; stultify; systaltic; systole.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek stellein "to put in order, make ready; equip or dress with weapons, clothes, etc.; prepare (for a journey), dispatch; to furl (sails);" Armenian stełc-anem "to prepare, create;" Albanian shtiell "to wind up, reel up, collect;" Old Church Slavonic po-steljo "I spread;" Old Prussian stallit "to stand;" Old English steall "standing place, stable," Old High German stellen "to set, place."

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stalemate (n.)
1765, in chess, from stale "stalemate" (early 15c.) + mate (n.2) "checkmate." Middle English stale is probably from Anglo-French estale "standstill" (see stall (n.2)). A misnomer, because a stale is not a mate. "In England from the 17th c. to the beginning of the 19th c. the player who received stalemate won the game" [OED]. Figurative sense is recorded from 1885. As a verb from 1765; figurative from 1861.
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lant (n.)
"stale urine used for industrial purposes, chamber-lye," Old English hland.
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tipsy (adj.)
1570s, from tip (v.1); compare drowsy, flimsy, tricksy. Later associated with tipple. Tipsy-cake (1806) was stale cake saturated with wine or liquor.
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vapid (adj.)
1650s, "flat, insipid" (of drinks), from Latin vapidus "flat, insipid," literally "that has exhaled its vapor," related to vappa "stale wine," and probably to vapor "vapor." Applied from 1758 to talk and writing deemed dull and lifeless. Related: Vapidly; vapidness.
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fusty (adj.)
"stale-smelling," late 14c., from French fusté "fusty, tasting of the cask," from Old French fuste, fuist "wine cask," originally "stick, stave, wood" (Modern French fût), from Latin fustis "staff, stick of wood" (see fustigate). Related: Fustiness. Fustilugs was 17c. slang for "a woman of gross or corpulent habit" [OED], later generally in dialect for a big-boned person.
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stalk (n.)

"stem of a plant," early 14c., probably a diminutive (with -k suffix) of stale "one of the uprights of a ladder, handle, stalk," from Old English stalu "wooden part" (of a tool or instrument), from Proto-Germanic *stalla- (source also of Old English steala "stalk, support," steall "place"), from PIE *stol-no-, suffixed form of *stol-, variant of root *stel- "to put, stand, put in order," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place. Of similar structures in animals from 1826.

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Joe Miller (n.)

"stale joke," 1816, from Joseph Miller (1684-1738), a comedian, whose name was affixed after his death to a popular jest-book, "Joe Miller's Jests, or the Wit's Vade-mecum" (1739) compiled by John Mottley, which gave Miller after his death more fame than he enjoyed while alive.

A certain Lady finding her Husband somewhat too familiar with her Chamber-maid, turned her away immediately; Hussy, said she, I have no Occasion for such Sluts as you, only to do that Work which I choose to do myself. [from "Joe Miller's Jests"].
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