"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.
"pursue stealthily," Old English -stealcian, as in bestealcian "to steal along, walk warily," from Proto-Germanic *stalkon, frequentative of PIE *stel-, possibly a variant of *ster- (3) "to rob, steal" (see steal (v.)). Compare hark/hear, talk/tell). In another view the Old English word might be by influenced of stalk (n.). Meaning "harass obsessively" first recorded 1991. Related: Stalked; stalking.
A stalking-horse in literal use was a horse draped in trappings and trained to allow a fowler to conceal himself behind it to get within range of the game; figurative sense of "person who participates in a proceeding to disguise its real purpose" is recorded from 1610s.
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."
"cabbage," a dialectal survival of Middle English col, from late Old English cawel, or perhaps from or influenced by cognate Old Norse kal. Both words are from Latin caulis "stem, stalk" (which in Vulgar Latin replaced brassica as the usual word for "cabbage"), from Proto-Italic *kauli- "stalk," from PIE root *(s)kehuli- "stem of a plant, stalk" (source also of Old Irish cual "faggot, bundle of sticks," Greek kaulos "stem, stalk, pole," Armenian c'awl "stalk, straw," Old Prussian kaulan, Lithuanian káulas "bone").
Latin caulis "cabbage" is the source also of Italian cavolo, Spanish col, Old French chol, French chou; it also was borrowed elsewhere in Germanic, for example Swedish kål, Danish kaal, German Kohl, Dutch kool.