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steer (v.)

"guide the course of a vehicle," originally by a rudder or something like it, Old English steran (Mercian), stieran (West Saxon) "steer, guide, direct; govern, rule; restrain, correct, punish," from Proto-Germanic *steurjanan (source also of Old Norse styra, Old Frisian stiora, Dutch sturen, Old High German stiuren, German steuern "to steer," Gothic stiurjan "to establish, assert"), related to *steuro "a rudder, a steering," from PIE *steu-ro- (source also of Greek stauros "stake, pole"), extended form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

The notion is of a stiff, upright pillar or post used in steering, or else perhaps "establish," hence "direct, steer." Intransitive sense also was in Old English. To steer clear of in the figurative sense of "to avoid completely" is recorded from 1723. Related: Steered; steering.

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steer (n.)
"young ox," Old English steor "bullock," from Proto-Germanic *steuraz (source also of Old Saxon stior, Old Norse stjorr, Swedish tjur, Danish tyr, Middle Dutch, Dutch, German stier, Gothic stiur "bull"), perhaps from PIE *steu-ro-, denoting "larger domestic animal" (see Taurus). In U.S. of male beef cattle of any age.
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steerable (adj.)
1836, originally of balloons, from steer (v.) + -able.
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toro (n.)
"bull," 1650s, from Spanish toro "bull," from Latin taurus (see steer (n.)).
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steering (n.)
early 13c., verbal noun from steer (v.). Steering-wheel attested from 1750. Steering committee in the U.S. political sense is recorded from 1887.
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bittern (n.)
heron-like European bird, c. 1300, bitour, botor, from Old French butor "bittern," which is perhaps from Gallo-Roman *butitaurus, from Latin butionem "bittern" + taurus "bull" (see steer (n.)); according to Pliny, so called because of its booming voice, but this seems fanciful. Modern form from 1510s.
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stern (n.)
early 13c., "hind part of a ship; steering gear of a ship," probably from a Scandinavian source, such as Old Norse stjorn "a steering," related to or derived from styra "to guide" (see steer (v.)). Or the word may come from Old Frisian stiarne "rudder," which also is related to steer (v.). Stern-wheeler as a type of steam-boat is from 1855, American English.
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steerage (n.)
c. 1400, "steering apparatus of a ship;" mid-15c., "action of steering," from steer (v.) + -age. Meaning "part of a ship in front of the chief cabin" is from 1610s; originally in the rear of the ship where the steering apparatus was, it retained the name after the introduction of the deck wheel in early 18c.; hence meaning "section of a ship with the cheapest accommodations," first recorded 1804, later found in the front part of a ship.
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*sta- 

*stā-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to stand, set down, make or be firm," with derivatives meaning "place or thing that is standing."

It forms all or part of: Afghanistan; Anastasia; apostasy; apostate; armistice; arrest; assist; astatic; astatine; Baluchistan; bedstead; circumstance; consist; constable; constant; constitute; contrast; cost; desist; destination; destine; destitute; diastase; distance; distant; ecstasy; epistasis; epistemology; establish; estaminet; estate; etagere; existence; extant; Hindustan; histidine; histo-; histogram; histology; histone; hypostasis; insist; instant; instauration; institute; interstice; isostasy; isostatic; Kazakhstan; metastasis; obstacle; obstetric; obstinate; oust; Pakistan; peristyle; persist; post (n.1) "timber set upright;" press (v.2) "force into service;" presto; prostate; prostitute; resist; rest (v.2) "to be left, remain;" restitution; restive; restore; shtetl; solstice; stable (adj.) "secure against falling;" stable (n.) "building for domestic animals;" stage; stalag; stalwart; stamen; -stan; stance; stanchion; stand; standard; stanza; stapes; starboard; stare decisis; stasis; -stat; stat; state (n.1) "circumstances, conditions;" stater; static; station; statistics; stator; statue; stature; status; statute; staunch; (adj.) "strong, substantial;" stay (v.1) "come to a halt, remain in place;" stay (n.2) "strong rope which supports a ship's mast;" stead; steed; steer (n.) "male beef cattle;" steer (v.) "guide the course of a vehicle;" stem (n.) "trunk of a plant;" stern (n.) "hind part of a ship;" stet; stoa; stoic; stool; store; stound; stow; stud (n.1) "nailhead, knob;" stud (n.2) "horse kept for breeding;" stylite; subsist; substance; substitute; substitution; superstition; system; Taurus; understand.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit tisthati "stands;" Avestan histaiti "to stand;" Persian -stan "country," literally "where one stands;" Greek histēmi "put, place, cause to stand; weigh," stasis "a standing still," statos "placed," stylos "pillar;" Latin sistere "stand still, stop, make stand, place, produce in court," status "manner, position, condition, attitude," stare "to stand," statio "station, post;" Lithuanian stojuos "I place myself," statau "I place;" Old Church Slavonic staja "place myself," stanu "position;" Gothic standan, Old English standan "to stand," stede "place;" Old Norse steði "anvil;" Old Irish sessam "the act of standing."

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govern (v.)
late 13c., "to rule with authority," from Old French governer "steer, be at the helm of; govern, rule, command, direct" (11c., Modern French gouverner), from Latin gubernare "to direct, rule, guide, govern" (source also of Spanish gobernar, Italian governare), originally "to steer, to pilot," a nautical borrowing from Greek kybernan "to steer or pilot a ship, direct as a pilot," figuratively "to guide, govern" (the root of cybernetics). The -k- to -g- sound shift is perhaps via the medium of Etruscan. Intransitive sense from 1590s. Related: Governed; governing.
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