"close-fitting garment covering the foot and lower leg," 1580s, from stock "leg covering, stocking" (late 15c.), from Old English stocu "sleeve," related to Old English stocc "trunk, log" (see stock (n.1)). Probably so called because of a fancied resemblance of legs to tree trunks, or a reference to the punishing stocks. Cognates include Old Norse stuka, Old High German stuhha, from the same Proto-Germanic source. Restriction to women's hose is 20c. As a receptacle for Christmas presents, attested from 1853; hence stocking stuffer first recorded 1945. Stocking-feet "without shoes" is from 1802.
updated on December 08, 2013