Etymology
Advertisement
stark (adj.)

Old English stearc "stiff, strong, rigid, obstinate; stern, severe, hard; harsh, rough, violent," from Proto-Germanic *starka- (source also of Old Norse sterkr, Danish, Old Frisian sterk, Middle Dutch starc, Old High German starah, German stark, Gothic *starks), from PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff." From the same root as stern (adj.).

Meaning "utter, sheer, complete" first recorded c. 1400, perhaps from influence of common phrase stark dead (late 14c.), with stark mistaken as an intensive adjective. Sense of "bare, barren" is from 1833. As an adverb from c. 1200. Related: Starkly; starkness. Stark-raving (adj.) is from 1640s; earlier stark-staring 1530s.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
stark-naked (adj.)

1520s, deformed (by influence of stark (adj.)) from Middle English start naked (early 13c.), from Old English steort "tail, rump," from Proto-Germanic *stertaz (source also of Old Norse stertr, Danish stjert, Middle Dutch stert, Dutch staart, Old High German sterz, German Sterz), from PIE *sterd-, extended form of root *ster- (1) "stiff." Hence British slang starkers "naked" (1923).

Related entries & more 
stretch (v.)
Old English streccan (transitive and intransitive) "to stretch, spread out, prostrate; reach, extend" (past tense strehte, past participle streht), from Proto-Germanic *strakjanan (source also of Danish strække, Swedish sträcka, Old Frisian strekka, Old High German strecchan, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Old High German, German strecken "to stretch, draw out"), perhaps a variant of the root of stark, or else from PIE root *strenk- "tight, narrow; pull tight, twist" (see string (n.)).

Meaning "to extend (the limbs or wings)" is from c. 1200; that of "to lay out for burial" is from early 13c. To stretch (one's) legs "take a walk" is from c. 1600. Meaning "to lengthen by force" first recorded late 14c.; figurative sense of "to enlarge beyond proper limits, exaggerate," is from 1550s. Stretch limo first attested 1973. Stretch marks is attested from 1960. Related: Stretched; stretching.
Related entries & more 
*ster- (1)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "stiff."

It forms all or part of: cholesterol; redstart; starch; stare; stark; stark-naked; start; startle; starve; stere; stereo-; stern (adj.); stork; strut; torpedo; torpid; torpor.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek stereos "solid," sterizein "to support," sterphnios "stiff, rigid," sterphos "hide, skin;" Sanskrit sthirah "hard, firm," Persian suturg "strong;" Lithuanian storas "thick," strėgti "to become frozen;" Old Church Slavonic trupeti, Lithuanian tirpstu, tirpti "to become rigid;" Old Church Slavonic strublu "strong, hard," staru "old" (hence Russian stary "old"); Old English starian "to stare," stearc "stiff, strong, rigid," steorfan "to die," literally "become stiff," styrne "severe, strict."

Related entries & more 
tail (n.1)

"hindmost part of an animal," Old English tægl, tægel "a tail," from Proto-Germanic *tagla- (source also of Old High German zagal, German Zagel "tail," dialectal German Zagel "penis," Old Norse tagl "horse's tail," Gothic tagl "hair"), from PIE *doklos, from suffixed form of root *dek- (2) "something long and thin" (referring to such things as fringe, lock of hair, horsetail; source also of Old Irish dual "lock of hair," Sanskrit dasah "fringe, wick").

According to OED, the primary sense, at least in Germanic, seems to have been "hairy tail," or just "tuft of hair," but already in Old English the word was applied to the hairless "tails" of worms, bees, etc. But Buck writes that the common notion is of "long, slender shape." As an adjective from 1670s.

Meaning "reverse side of a coin" (opposite the side with the head) is from 1680s; that of "backside of a person, buttocks" is recorded from c. 1300; slang sense of "pudenda" is from mid-14c.; that of "woman as sex object" is from 1933, earlier "act of copulation" with a prostitute (1846). Of descending strokes of letters, from 1590s.

Tails "coat with tails" is from 1857. The tail-race (1776) is the part of a mill race below the wheel. To turn tail "take flight" (1580s) originally was a term in falconry. The image of the tail wagging the dog is attested from 1907. Another Old English word for "tail" was steort (see stark).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
redwood (n.)

also red-wood, 1610s, "wood that has a red hue," from red (adj.1) + wood (n.). Of various types of New World trees that yield such wood, from 1716; specifically the California Sequoia sempervirens from 1819. In Scottish English 16c.-18c. the same word as an adjective meant "completely deranged, raving, stark mad," from wood (adj.).

Related entries & more 
strong (adj.)
Old English strang "physically powerful, powerful in effect; forceful, severe, firm, bold, brave; constant, resolute; arduous, violent," from Proto-Germanic *strangaz (source also of Old Norse strangr "strong," Dutch streng "strict, rigorous," Old High German strang "strong, bold, hard," German streng "strict, rigorous"), possibly from PIE *strenk- "tight, narrow." Originally compared strenger, strengest (compare old/elder/eldest).

Grammatical sense, of noun and verb inflections, is first attested 1841, translating German stark, used in a grammatical sense by Jakob Grimm (the terms strong and weak better fit German inflections). Strong suit (1865) is from card-playing. Strong man "man of great strength" (especially one who displays it professionally) is recorded from 1690s; meaning "dominating man in a political organization" is from 1859.
Related entries & more