"instrument that keeps something stationary," before 1970, shortened form of Latin statim (adv.) "steadily, regularly; at once, immediately," from status "a station, position, place," noun of action from past participle stem of stare "to stand" from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." Perhaps originally "to a standstill." As an abbreviation of statistic, from 1961. Related: Stats.