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.

stalk (v.1)

"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.

stalk (v.2)

"walk haughtily" (nearly the opposite meaning of stalk (v.1)), 1520s, perhaps from stalk (n.) with a notion of "long, awkward strides," or from Old English stealcung "a stalking, act of going stealthily," related to stealc "steep, lofty."

updated on April 11, 2020

Definitions of stalk from WordNet
stalk (n.)
material consisting of seed coverings and small pieces of stem or leaves that have been separated from the seeds;
Synonyms: chaff / husk / shuck / straw / stubble
stalk (n.)
a slender or elongated structure that supports a plant or fungus or a plant part or plant organ;
Synonyms: stem
stalk (n.)
a hunt for game carried on by following it stealthily or waiting in ambush;
Synonyms: stalking / still hunt
stalk (n.)
the act of following prey stealthily;
Synonyms: stalking
stalk (n.)
a stiff or threatening gait;
Synonyms: angry walk
stalk (v.)
walk stiffly;
stalk (v.)
follow stealthily or recur constantly and spontaneously to;
her ex-boyfriend stalked her
Synonyms: haunt
stalk (v.)
go through (an area) in search of prey;
stalk the woods for deer
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