Entries linking to yardstick
measure of length, Old English gerd (Mercian), gierd (West Saxon) "rod, staff, stick; measure of length," from West Germanic *gazdijo, from Proto-Germanic *gazdjo "stick, rod" (source also of Old Saxon gerda, Old Frisian ierde, Dutch gard "rod;" Old High German garta, German gerte "switch, twig," Old Norse gaddr "spike, sting, nail"), from PIE root *ghazdh-o- "rod, staff, pole" (source also of Latin hasta "shaft, staff"). The nautical yard-arm retains the original sense of "stick."
Originally in Anglo-Saxon times a land measure of roughly 5 meters (a length later called rod, pole, or perch). Modern measure of "three feet" is attested from late 14c. (earlier rough equivalent was the ell of 45 inches, and the verge). In Middle English and after, the word also was a euphemism for "penis" (as in "Love's Labour's Lost," V.ii.676). Slang meaning "one hundred dollars" first attested 1926, American English. Middle English yerd (Old English gierd) also was "yard-land, yard of land," a varying measure but often about 30 acres or a quarter of a hide.
Old English sticca "rod, twig, peg; spoon," from Proto-Germanic *stikkon- "pierce, prick" (source also of Old Norse stik, Middle Dutch stecke, stec, Old High German stehho, German Stecken "stick, staff"), from PIE root *steig- "to stick; pointed" (see stick (v.)).
Meaning "staff used in a game" is from 1670s (originally billiards); meaning "manual gearshift lever" is attested by 1914. Alliterative connection of sticks and stones is recorded from mid-15c.; originally "every part of a building." Stick-bug is from 1870, American English; stick-figure is from 1949.
updated on April 15, 2014