stay
Pronunciation Verb

stay (stays, present participle staying; past and past participle stayed)

  1. (transitive) To prop; support; sustain; hold up; steady.
    • circa 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III (play), Act III, Scene 7,
      Lord Mayor of London. See, where he stands between two clergymen!
      Duke of Buckingham. Two props of virtue for a Christian prince,
      To stay him from the fall of vanity:
    • 1611 King James Version of the Bible, Book of Exodus 17.12,
      But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
    • 1677, Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid, London: T. Passinger, “Directions for Writing the most Vsual and Legible Hands for Women”, p. 17,
      Draw in your right elbow, turn your hand outward and bear it lightly, gripe not the pen too hard, with your left hand stay the paper.
    • 1725, John Dryden (translator), Virgil’s Husbandry, or an Essay on the Georgics, London, Book 2, p. 37,
      Sallows and Reeds, on Banks of Rivers born,
      Remain to cut; for Vineyards useful found,
      To stay thy Vines and fence thy fruitful Ground.
  2. (transitive) To support from sinking; to sustain with strength; to satisfy in part or for the time.
    • 1826, Walter Scott, Woodstock (novel), Chapter 20,
      […] he has devoured a whole loaf of bread and butter, as fast as Phoebe could cut it, and it has not staid his stomach for a minute […]
  3. (transitive) To stop; detain; keep back; delay; hinder.
    • circa 1593 William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, Scene 2,
      Your ships are stay’d at Venice.
    • 1671, John Evelyn, John Evelyn's Diary, entry dated 14 November, 1671, in The Diary of John Evelyn, London: Macmillan, 1906, Volume 2, p. 337,
      This business staid me in London almost a week […]
    • 1690, John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, London: Thomas Basset, Book 3, Chapter 5, p. 207,
      […] I was willing to stay my Reader on an Argument, that appears to me new […]
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 6,
      The task of recalling him from the vagrancy into which he always sank when he had spoken, was like recalling some very weak person from a swoon, or endeavouring, in the hope of some disclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man.
    • 1925, Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985, p. 44,
      […] she filled the room she entered, and felt often as she stood hesitating one moment on the threshold of her drawing-room, an exquisite suspense, such as might stay a diver before plunging while the sea darkens and brightens beneath him […]
    • 2010, Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question, New York: Bloomsbury, Chapter 9,
      She rose to leave but Libor stayed her.
  4. (transitive) To restrain; withhold; check; stop.
    • 1597, Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book 5, in The Works of Mr. Richard Hooker, London: Andrew Crook, 1666, p. ,
      […] all that may but with any the least shew of possibility stay their mindes from thinking that true, which they heartily wish were false, but cannot think it so […]
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Books of Samuel 24.7,
      So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul.
    • 1852, Charlotte Brontë, letter cited in Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, 1857, Volume 2, Chapter 10,
      […] you must follow the impulse of your own inspiration. If THAT commands the slaying of the victim, no bystander has a right to put out his hand to stay the sacrificial knife: but I hold you a stern priestess in these matters.
  5. (transitive) To cause to cease; to put an end to.
    • circa 1593 William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Act III, Scene 1,
      Now stay your strife […]
    • 1847, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Threnody” in Poems, Boston: James Munroe, p. 242,
      For flattering planets seemed to say
      This child should ills of ages stay,
  6. (transitive) To put off; defer; postpone; delay; keep back.
    The governor stayed the execution until the appeal could be heard.
    • 1935, Pearl S. Buck, A House Divided (novel), London: Methuen, Part 1, p. 137,
      Without one word to deny himself, Yuan let himself be bound, his hands behind his back, and no one could stay the matter.
    • 2001, Richard Flanagan, Gould's Book of Fish, New York: Grove, “The Leatherjacket,” pp. 187-188,
      As I curled up like a dying fish beneath his flailing boots, I managed to stay his assault long enough to tell him that I had only ever seen myself as his most loyal servant […]
  7. (transitive) To hold the attention of.
  8. (transitive, obsolete) To bear up under; to endure; to hold out against; to resist.
    • circa 1594 William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 1,
      She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
      Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes,
  9. (transitive, obsolete) To wait for; await.
    • circa 1594 William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act II, Scene 2,
      My father stays my coming;
    • circa 1599 William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act III, Scene 2,
      Let me stay the growth of his beard,
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To remain for the purpose of; to stay to take part in or be present at (a meal, ceremony etc.).
    • circa 1592 William Shakespeare, Richard III (play), Act III, Scene 2,
      I stay dinner there.
    • 1791, Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story, Oxford 2009, p. 177:
      Some of the company staid supper, which prevented the embarrassment that must unavoidably have arisen, had the family been by themselves.
    • 1818, Jane Austen, Persuasion (novel), Chapter 7,
      How glad they had been to hear papa invite him to stay dinner, how sorry when he said it was quite out of his power […]
  11. (intransitive, obsolete) To rest; depend; rely.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Book of Isaiah 30.12,
      Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
    • circa 1596 William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 2,
      I stay here on my bond.
  12. (intransitive, obsolete) To stop; come to a stand or standstill.
  13. (intransitive, archaic) To come to an end; cease.
    That day the storm stayed.
    • circa 1590 William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act II, Scene 4,
      Here my commission stays,
  14. (intransitive, archaic) To dwell; linger; tarry; wait.
    • 1700 John Dryden, Fables Ancient and Modern, London: Jacob Tonson, dedicatory epistle,
      Yet not to be wholly silent of all your Charities I must stay a little on one Action, which preferr’d the Relief of Others, to the Consideration of your Self.
  15. (intransitive, dated) To make a stand; to stand firm.
  16. (intransitive) To hold out, as in a race or contest; last or persevere to the end.
    That horse stays well.
  17. (intransitive) To remain in a particular place, especially for a definite or short period of time; sojourn; abide.
    We stayed in Hawaii for a week.  I can only stay for an hour.
    • 1590 Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book 1, Canto 10, p. 140,
      She would commaund the hasty Sunne to stay,
      Or backward turne his course from heuen's hight,
    • 1681, John Dryden, The Spanish Friar, London: Richard Tonson and Jacob Tonson, Act IV, p. 60,
      Stay, I command you; stay and hear me first,
    • 1874 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Three Friends of Mine,” IV, in The Masque of Pandora and Other Poems, Boston: James R. Osgood, 1875, p. 353,
      I stay a little longer, as one stays / To cover up the embers that still burn.
  18. (intransitive, obsolete) To wait; rest in patience or expectation.
    • circa 1596 William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 4,
      I’ll tell thee all my whole device / When I am in my coach, which stays for us.
    • 1693 John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, London: A. & J. Churchill, p. 260,
      The Father cannot stay any longer for the Portion, nor the Mother for a new Sett of Babies to play with […]
  19. (intransitive, obsolete, used with on or upon) To wait as an attendant; give ceremonious or submissive attendance.
    • circa 1604 William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act IV, Scene 1,
      I have a servant comes with me along,
      That stays upon me […]
    • circa 1605 William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act I, Scene 3,
      Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.
  20. (intransitive) To continue to have a particular quality.
    Wear gloves so your hands stay warm.
    • 1700, John Dryden (translator), Fables Ancient and Modern, “MELEAGER AND ATALANTA, Out of the Eighth Book OF Ovid’S Metamorphoses,” p. 118,
      For as the Flames augment, and as they stay / At their full Height, then languish to decay, / They rise, and sink by Fits […]
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Part 2, Chapter 30,
      The evergreen arch wouldn’t stay firm after she got it up, but wiggled and threatened to tumble down on her head when the hanging baskets were filled.
    • 1943, Graham Greene, The Ministry of Fear, London: Heinemann, 1960, Book 3, Chapter 2, p. 210,
      The three men in the room stayed motionless, holding their breaths.
  21. (intransitive, Scotland, South Africa, India, US South, AAVE, colloquial) To live; reside
    Hey, where do you stay at?
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Noun

stay (plural stays)

  1. Continuance or a period of time spent in a place; abode for an indefinite time; sojourn.
    I hope you enjoyed your stay in Hawaii.
  2. A postponement, especially of an execution or other punishment.
    The governor granted a stay of execution.
  3. (archaic) A stop; a halt; a break or cessation of action, motion, or progress.
    stand at a stay
    • 1645, John Milton, “Another on the ſame”, in Poems of Mr. John Milton, […] , London: Printed by Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Moſely,  […], OCLC 606951673 ↗, page 29 ↗:
      Made of ſphear-metal, never to decay / Untill his revolution was at ſtay.
    • Affairs of state seemed rather to stand at a stay.
  4. A fixed state; fixedness; stability; permanence.
  5. (nautical) A station or fixed anchorage for vessels.
  6. Restraint of passion; prudence; moderation; caution; steadiness; sobriety.
    • Not grudging that thy lust hath bounds and stays.
    • 1622, Francis, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban [i.e. Francis Bacon], The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh, […], London: Printed by W[illiam] Stansby for Matthew Lownes, and William Barret, OCLC 1086746628 ↗:
      The wisdom, stay, and moderation of the king.
    • With prudent stay he long deferred / The rough contention.
  7. (obsolete) Hindrance; let; check.
    • (More's Utopia)
      They were able to read good authors without any stay, if the book were not false.
Translations Translations Noun

stay (plural stays)

  1. A prop; a support.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 9”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      My onely strength and stay.
    • 1705 (revised 1718), Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy
      The trees themselves serve, at the same time, as so many stays for their Vines
    • Lord Liverpool is the single stay of this ministry.
  2. A piece of stiff material, such as plastic or whalebone, used to stiffen a piece of clothing.
    Where are the stays for my collar?
  3. (in the plural) A corset.
    • 1859, Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White ↗:
      Her figure was tall, yet not too tall; comely and well-developed, yet not fat; her head set on her shoulders with an easy, pliant firmness; her waist, perfection in the eyes of a man, for it occupied its natural place, it filled out its natural circle, it was visibly and delightfully undeformed by stays.
  4. (archaic) A fastening for a garment; a hook; a clasp; anything to hang another thing on.
Noun

stay (plural stays)

  1. (nautical) A strong rope or wire supporting a mast, and leading from one masthead down to some other, or other part of the vessel.
  2. A guy, rope, or wire supporting or stabilizing a platform, such as a bridge, a pole, such as a tentpole, the mast of a derrick, or other structural element.
    The engineer insisted on using stays for the scaffolding.
  3. The transverse piece in a chain-cable link.
Synonyms Translations Translations Verb

stay (stays, present participle staying; past and past participle stayed)

  1. To brace or support with a stay or stays
    stay a mast
  2. (transitive, nautical) To incline forward, aft, or to one side by means of stays.
  3. (transitive, nautical) To tack; put on the other tack.
    to stay ship
  4. (intransitive, nautical) To change; tack; go about; be in stays, as a ship.
Adjective

stay (comparative stayer, superlative stayest)

  1. (UK dialectal) Steep; ascending.
    • 1908, Publications of the Scottish History Society - Volume 53 - Page 121:
      The Castle of Edr. is naturally a great strenth situate upon the top of a high Rock perpendicular on all sides, except on the entry from the burgh, which is a stay ascent and is well fortified with strong Walls, three gates each one within another, with Drawbridges, and all necessary fortifications.
  2. (UK dialectal) (of a roof) Steeply pitched.
  3. (UK dialectal) Difficult to negotiate; not easy to access; sheer.
  4. (UK dialectal) Stiff; upright; unbending; reserved; haughty; proud.
Adverb

stay (comparative stayer, superlative stayest)

  1. (UK dialectal) Steeply.

Stay
Proper noun
  1. Surname



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