early 14c., "a crutch," a common Germanic word (cognates: Danish stylte, Swedish stylta, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch stelte "stilt," Old High German stelza "plow handle, crutch"), though the exact relationship of them all is unclear, from Proto-Germanic *steltijon, from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand" (see stall (n.1)). Application to "wooden poles for walking across marshy ground, etc." is from mid-15c. Meaning "one of the posts on which a building is raised from the ground" is first attested 1690s. As a type of bird with long legs, from 1831. Stilted in the figurative sense of "pompous, stuffy" is first recorded 1820.
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