Old English stede "place, position; standing, firmness, stability, fixity," from Proto-Germanic *stadi- (source also of Old Saxon stedi, Old Norse staðr "place, spot; stop, pause; town," Swedish stad, Dutch stede "place," Old High German stat, German Stadt "town," Gothic staþs "place"), from PIE *steti-, suffixed form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." Related to stand.
Now chiefly in compounds or phrases. Meaning "assistance, use, benefit, advantage" is from c. 1300. Meaning "frame on which a bed is laid" is from c. 1400. The German use of Stadt for "town, city" "is a late development from c. 1200 when the term began to replace Burg" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]. The Steads was 16c. English for "the Hanseatic cities."