Old English stempan "to pound in a mortar," from Proto-Germanic *stamp- (source also of Old Norse stappa, Danish stampe, Middle Dutch stampen, Old High German stampfon, German stampfen "to stamp with the foot, beat, pound," German Stampfe "pestle"), from nasalized form of PIE root *stebh- "to support, place firmly on" (source also of Greek stembein "to trample, misuse;" see staff (n.)). The vowel altered in Middle English, perhaps by influence of Scandinavian forms.
Sense of "strike the foot forcibly downwards" is from mid-14c. The meaning "impress or mark (something) with a die" is first recorded 1550s. Italian stampa "stamp, impression," Spanish estampar "to stamp, print," French étamper (13c., Old French estamper) "to stamp, impress" are Germanic loan-words. Related: Stamped; stamping. To stamp out originally was "extinguish a fire by stamping on it;" attested from 1851 in the figurative sense. Stamping ground "one's particular territory" (1821) is from the notion of animals. A stamped addressed envelope (1873) was one you enclosed in a letter to speed or elicit a reply.
mid-15c., "instrument for crushing, stamping tool," from stamp (v.). Especially "instrument for making impressions" (1570s). The meaning "downward thrust or blow with the foot, act of stamping" is from 1580s.
The sense of "official mark or imprint" (to certify that duty has been paid on what has been printed or written) dates from 1540s; it was transferred 1837 to designed, pre-printed adhesive labels issued by governments to serve the same purpose as impressed stamps. U.S. postage stamps were issued under the Post Office Act of March 3, 1847; Britain had them earlier, under the Postage Act of 1839. German Stempel "rubber stamp, brand, postmark" represents a diminutive form. Stamp-collecting is by 1862 (compare philately).
updated on March 16, 2022