"close-fitting garment covering the foot and lower leg," 1580s, from stock "leg covering, stocking" (late 15c.), from Old English stocu "sleeve," related to Old English stocc "trunk, log" (see stock (n.1)). Probably so called because of a fancied resemblance of legs to tree trunks, or a reference to the punishing stocks. Cognates include Old Norse stuka, Old High German stuhha, from the same Proto-Germanic source. Restriction to women's hose is 20c. As a receptacle for Christmas presents, attested from 1853; hence stocking stuffer first recorded 1945. Stocking-feet "without shoes" is from 1802.
also leather-stocking, 1701, "a sock made of leather," from leather (n.) + stocking (n.). As "a wearer of socks made of leather," usually meaning "an American frontiersman," 1823, in reference to Natty Bumppo, nicknamed "Leatherstocking," the central character in J.F. Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales."
"wearing or favoring silken hose," 1590s, from silk stocking (n.) "stocking made of silk" (1590s); see silk + stocking (n.). From the first they were symbols of extravagance, and in America after the Revolution silk stockings, especially worn by men, were regarded as reprehensible, indicative of luxurious habits.
also blue-stocking, 1790, derisive word for a woman considered too learned; see blue (adj.1) + stocking. The usage traces to a London literary salon founded c. 1750 by Elizabeth Montagu on the Parisian model, featuring intellectual discussion instead of card games and in place of ostentatious evening attire simple dress, including notably Benjamin Stillingfleet's blue-gray tradesman's hose, which he wore in place of gentleman's black silk. Hence the term, first applied in derision to the whole set by Admiral Boscawen. None of the ladies wore blue stockings. The phrase was borrowed by the neighbors in loan-translations such as French bas-bleu, Dutch blauwkous, German Blaustrumpf.
"ornament pattern on a stocking," 1520s, probably identical with clock (n.1) in its older sense and meaning "bell-shaped ornament," though clock seems never to have been used for "bell" in English. Related: Clocked; clock-stocking.
"metal armor to protect the front of the leg below the knee," c. 1300, from Old French greve "shin, armor for the leg" (12c.), of unknown origin. [Klein suggests it ultimately is from Egyptian Arabic gaurab "stocking, apparel for the leg."]
"to supply (a store) with stock," 1620s, from stock (n.2). Meaning "to lay up in store" is from c. 1700. Earliest sense is "to imprison in stocks" (early 14c.). Related: Stocked; stocking.