, from (etyl), "shade", perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to (etyl) svalr
A low tract of moist or marshy land.
A long narrow and shallow trough between ridges on a beach, running parallel to the coastline.
A shallow troughlike depression that's created to carry water during rainstorms or snow melts; a drainage ditch.
A shallow, usually grassy depression sloping downward from a plains upland meadow or level vegetated ridgetop.
A shallow trough dug into the land on contour (horizontally with no slope). Its purpose being to allow water time to percolate into the soil.
- Jane climbed a few more paces behind him and then peeped over the ridge. Just beyond began a shallow swale that deepened and widened into a valley, and then swung to the left.
(UK, dialect) A gutter in a candle.
(melt and waste away, or singe)
From (etyl), from (etyl) stalu, from (etyl)
[Oxford English Dictionary . "Stale, n. 1".]
(crime, obsolete) Theft; the act of stealing.
* 1340 , Ayenbite 9:
(crime, obsolete) Stealth, used in the phrase by stale .
* Sawles Warde'' in ''Cott. Hom. , 249:
- Ine þise heste is vorbode roberie]], [[theft, þiefþe, stale , and gavel.
- Hire wune is to cumen bi stale ...hwen me least cweneð.
From (etyl), from (etyl) stalu, from (etyl) , which became English stele and stela.
A long, thin handle, as of rakes, axes, etc.
* 12th century , Sidonius Glosses'' in ''Anecd. Oxon. , I v 59 22:
* Langland, Piers Plowman (Vesp. MS), C xxii 279:
- Ansae et ansulae alicuius rei sunt illa eminentia in illa re per quam capi possit .i. ‘stale ’.
* 1742 , W. Ellis, London & Country Brewer 4th ed., I 61:
- And lerede men a ladel bygge with a long stale .
* 1890 February 4, Manchester Guardian , 12 3:
- In Case your Cask is a Butt,...have ready boiling...Water, which put in, and, with a long Stale and a little Birch fastened to its End, scrub the Bottom.
(dialectical) The posts and rungs composing a ladder.
* 13th century , Ancrene Riwle , 160:
- You came to me with the axe head in one hand and the stale in the other.
* Shoreham Poems , I 49:
- Scheome. and pine...beoð þe two leddre]] stalen'. þet beoð upriht to þe heouene. and bitweonen þeos ' stalen beoð þe tindes i-vestned of alle gode þeauwes. bi hwuche me of [[heaven, heouene.
* 1887 , W. D. Parish & al., Kentish Dial.
- Þis]] ilke laddre is charite, [[the, Þe stales gode þeawis.
(botany, obsolete) The stem of a plant.
The shaft of an arrow, spear, etc.
* 1553 , J. Brende translating Q. Curtius Rufus, Hist. , IX
- Stales , the staves, or risings of a ladder, or the staves of a rack in a stable.
* G. Chapman translating Homer, Iliad , IV 173:
- The Surgians]] cut of the stale of that shaft in suche wise, that they moued not the heade that was [[within, wythin the fleshe.
- ...seeing th'arrowes stale without.
* stele (botanical, prefered )
* steal, stele (dialectical )
* steel, stail (arhaic )
* handle (grip of tools, generally )
* haft (handle of axes )
* shaft (body of arrows, spears, etc. )
* stem (plants )
(obsolete) To make a ladder by joining rungs ("stales") between the posts.
* 1492 in Archæol. Cant. , XVI 304:
- For stalyng of the ladders of the Churche xx]] [[old penny, d.
From (etyl) stail, from (etyl) . Related to (stall) and (stand).
(military, obsolete) A fixed position, particularly a soldier's in a battle-line.
* in C. L. Kingsford, Chrons. London (1905), 123:
* 1485 , , Le Morte d'Arthur , V xi 179
- And at pavelen...þe]] Erle of Dorzet helde is stale , and he [[took, toke prisoners.
(chess, uncommon) A stalemate; a stalemated game.
* 1423 , Kingis Quair , CLXIX:
- And syr]] Florence with his C knyghtes [[always, alwey kepte the stale and foughte manly.
* 1625 , , Essays , 65
- ‘Off mate?’ quod sche...‘thou has fundin stale This mony day’.
(military, obsolete) An ambush.
* Wyntoun Cron. , IX viii 811:
- They stand at a stay; Like a Stale at Chesse, where it is no Mate, but yet the Game cannot stirre.
* 1513 , G. Douglas translating Virgil, Æneid , XI x 96:
- And he in stale howyd al stil.
* 1577 , R. Holinshed, Chron. , II 1479 2:
- It is a stelling place and sovir harbry, Quhar ost in staill or embuschment may ly.
(obsolete) A band of armed men or hunters.
* in N. H. Nicolas, Hist. Royal Navy (1847), II 491:
- The erle]] of Essex...with C. speares was layde in a stale , if the Frenchmen had come [[nearer, neerer.
* 14th century , Morte Arthur , 1355:
- [Every time that it shall be ordered..that armed men..shall land on the enemy's coast to seek victuals... then there shall be ordained a sufficient ‘stale ’ of armed men and archers who shall wait together on the land until the ‘forreiours’ return to them].
* J. Bellenden translating H. Boece, Hyst. & Cron. Scotl. , XII xvi 184:
- [Gawayne] sterttes owtte to hys stede, and with his stale wendes.
* 1577 , R. Holinshed, Hist. Scotl.'', 471 2 in ''Chron. , I:
- The staill past]] throw the wod with sic noyis...yat all the bestis wer rasit fra thair [[dens, dennys.
(Scottish, military, obsolete) The main force of an army.
* 1532 in 1836, State Papers Henry VIII , IV 626:
- The Lard of Drunlanrig lying al]] thys while in ambush...forbare to breake out to gyue anye charge vppon his enimies, doubting least the Earle of Lennox hadde kept a stale [[behind, behynde.
- Neveryeles I knaw asweill by Englisemen as Scottishmen that their stale was no les then thre thowsand men.
(chess, obsolete) At a standstill; stalemated.
* Ashmolean MS 344, 21:
- Then drawith he & is stale .
(chess, uncommon, transitive) To stalemate.
* Ashmole MS 344, 7:
* 1903 , H. J. R. Murray, Brit. Chess. Mag. , 283:
- He shall stale þe black kyng in the pointe þer the crosse standith.
(chess, obsolete, intransitive) To be stalemated.
* 1597 , A. Montgomerie, Cherrie & Slae , 202:
- In China, however, a player who stales his opponent's King, wins the game.
- For vnder]] cuire I got sik check, that I micht neither muife nor neck, bot ather stale or [[mate, mait.
Uncertain. Perhaps (etyl) .
[Oxford English Dictionary . "Stale, n. 5" and "v. 1".]
(livestock, obsolete) Urine, especially used of horses and cattle.
* 14th c. , Stockh. Medical MS. in Anglia XVIII.299:
* 1535 , (Miles Coverdale) translating the (Bible), "Isaiah", XXXVI.100:
- In werd ben men & womenþat þer stale mown not holde.
* 1548 , Robert Record, Vrinal of Physick , XI.89:
- That they be not compelled to eate their owne donge, and drinke their owne stale with you?
* 1583 , B. Melbancke, Philotimus :
- The stale of Camel]]s and Goatsis good for them that have the [[dropsy, dropsie.
* , I.48:
- Or annoint thy selfe with the stale of a mule.
* (William Shakespeare), Antony & Cleopatra , I.iv.62:
- Those of Crotta'' being hardly besieged by ''Metellus , were reduced to so hard a pinch, and strait necessitie of all manner of other beverage, that they were forced to drinke the stale or urine of their horses.
* 1698 , J. Fryer, New Acct. E.-India & Persia , p.242:
- Thou did'st drinke The stale of Horses.
* 1733 , W. Ellis, Chiltern & Vale Farming , p.122:
- Mice and Weasels by their poysonous Stale infect the Trees so, that they produce Worms.
- Sheep, whose Dung and Stale is of most Virtue in the Nourishment of all Trees.
* to have a rod in stale
(livestock, obsolete, intransitive) To urinate, especially used of horses and cattle.
* 15th century , Lawis Gild'', X in ''Ancient Laws and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland , 68:
* 1530 , ,
- Gif ony stal in the yet of the gilde...he sall]] gif iiij[[old penny, d. to the mendis.
L'éclaircissement de la langue française , 732 1:
* 1631 , , Bartholmew Fayre I iv 64:
- Tary a whyle, your hors wyll staale .
* 1663 , T. Killigrew, Parson's Wedding , I iii:
- Why a pox o' your boxe, once againe: let your little wife stale in it, and she will.
* 1903 , , Five Nations , 150:
- I wonder [the knight's son] doth not go on all four too, and hold up his Leg when he stales .
- Cattle-dung where fuel failed; Water where the mules had staled ; And sackcloth for their raiment.
* 1928 , (Siegfried Sassoon), Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man , Penguin 2013, page 35:
- You stale' like a mare
And fart as you ' stale
- A mile or two before we got to the meet he stopped at an inn, where he put our horses into the stable for twenty minutes, ‘to give them a chance to stale ’.
Occasionally transitive, when in reference to horses or men pissing blood.
From (etyl) of uncertain etymology, but probably originally from (etyl) '' ("to stand"): compare Flemish ''stel'' in the same sense for beer and urine.
[''Oxford English Dictionary ]. "Stale, adj. 1" & "n. 7".
(alcohol, obsolete) Clear, free of dregs and lees; old and strong.
* K. Horn (Laud), 383:
* , Sir Thopas , 52:
- Bi]] forn [[wine, win and ale.
No longer fresh, in reference to food, urine, straw, wounds, etc.
* 1530 , ,
- Notemuge]] to putte in ale, Whether it be [[moist, moyste or stale
L'éclaircissement de la langue française , 325 2:
* Wyll of Deuill , C 2 b:
- Stale' as breed or drinke is, ''rassis''. '''Stale as meate is that begynneth to savoure, ''viel .
No longer fresh, new, or interesting, in reference to ideas and immaterial things; cliche, hackneyed, dated.
* 1562 , in J. Heywood, Proverbs & Epigrams (1867), 95:
- New freshe blood to ouersprinkle their stale mete]] that it may [[seem, seme...newly kylled.
* 1579 , in G. Harvey, letter book, 60:
- Better is...be it new or stale , A harmelesse lie, than a harmefull true tale.
* 1604 , , I ii 133:
- Doist thou smyle to reade this stale and beggarlye stuffe.
* 1822 March, , London Magazine , 284 1:
- How wary, stale , flat, and vnprofitable Seeme to me all the vses of this world?
No longer nubile or suitable for marriage, in reference to people; past one's prime.
* J. Jeffere, Bugbears , I ii 108:
- A two-days-old newspaper. You resent the stale thing as an affront.
* 1742 , T. Short, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society , 42 226:
- Rosimunda...hathe an vncle a stale batcheler.
(agriculture, obsolete) Fallow, in reference to land.
* 1764 , Museum Rusticum , II 306:
- In barren Women, and stale Maids, Tapping should be very cautiously undertaken.
(legal) Unreasonably long in coming, in reference to claims and actions.
- Lime would do very little or no good on stale ploughed lands.
- a stale affidavit
* 1769 , , Common Laws of England , IV xv 211:
- a stale demand
Worn out, particularly due to age or over-exertion, in reference to athletes and animals in competition.
* 1856 , "Stonehenge", Manual of British Rural Sports , II i vi §7 335:
- The jury will rarely give credit to a stale complaint.
* 1885 May 28, Truth , 853 2:
- By this means the [horse's] legs are not made more stale than necessary.
(finance) Out of date, unpaid for an unreasonable amount of time, particularly in reference to checks.
* 1901 , Business Terms & Phrases second edition, 199:
- Dame Agnes will probably be stale after her exertions in the Derby.
- Stale cheque,...a cheque which has remained unpaid for some considerable time.
In the third sense regarding food, usually (but not always) pejorative and synonymous with gone bad and turned. In reference to mead, wine, and bread, it can describe an acceptable or desired state (see : crouton). In modern English, however, "stale beer" has been light struck, flat, or oxidized and is to be avoided.
* see also
* go stale
* stale drunk
(colloquial) Something stale; a loaf of bread or the like that is no longer fresh.
* 1874 , , Far from the Madding Crowd , II iii 39:
* 1937 , , Road to Wigan Pier , I i 15:
- I went to Riggs's batty-cake shop, and asked 'em for a penneth of the cheapest and nicest stales , that were all but blue-mouldy, but not quite.
- Frayed-looking sweet-cakes...bought as ‘stales ’ from the baker.
(of alcohol, obsolete, transitive) To make stale; to age in order to clear and strengthen (a drink, especially beer).
* Promp. Parv. , 472 1:
* 1826 , Art of Brewing , second edition, 106:
- Stalyn , or make stale drynke, defeco .
To make stale; to cause to go out of fashion or currency; to diminish the novelty or interest of, particularly by excessive exposure or consumption.
* 1601 , , Fountaine of Self-love , 36:
- A stock of old porter should be kept, sufficient for staling the consumption of twelve months.
* 1601 , Ben Jonson, Every Man in his Humor , I iv:
- Ile goe tell all the Argument of his Play aforehand, and so stale his Inuention to the Auditory before it come foorth.
* , Antony & Cleopatra , II ii 241:
- Not content To stale himselfe in all societies, He makes my house as common as a Mart.
* 1863 , W. W. Story, Roba di Roma , I i 7:
- Age cannot wither her, nor custome stale Her infinite variety.
To become stale; to grow odious from excessive exposure or consumption.
* 1717 , E. Erskine, Serm. in Wks. , 50 1:
- Pictures and statues have been staled by copy and description.
* 1893 , "Q", Delectable Duchy , 325:
- They have got so much of Christ as to be staled of his company.
(alcohol) To become stale; to grow unpleasant from age.
* 1742 , W. Ellis, London & Country Brewer , 4th ed., I 64:
- Philanthropy was beginning to stale .
- The Drink from that Time flattens and stales .
Probably from uncommon (etyl) . Compare Old English ("catching fish").
[Oxford English Dictionary . "Stale, n. 3" & "v. 5".]
(falconry, hunting, obsolete) A live bird to lure birds of prey or others of its kind into a trap.
* Promp. Parv. , 472 1:
* 1579 , , Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans , "Sylla", 515:
- Stale , of fowlynge or byrdys takynge, stacionaria .
* 1608 , R. Tofte translating , Satyres , IV 56:
- Like vnto the fowlers, that by their stales draw other birdes into their nets.
(obsolete) Any lure, particularly in reference to people used as live bait.
* ", Certayne Bokes :
- A wife thats more then faire is like a stale , Or chanting whistle which brings birds to thrall.
* 1577 , , Chronicles , "The Historie of England, from the Time that It Was First Inhabited, Vntill the Time that It Was Last Conquered", 79 2:
- She ran in all the hast]]
Vnbrased and vnlast...
It was a stale to take
the [[devil, deuyll in a brake.
* 1579 , J. Stubbs, Discouerie Gaping Gulf
- The Britaynes]] woulde oftentimes...lay their Cattell...in places conueniente, to bee as a stale to the [[Romans, Romaynes, and when the Romaynes shoulde make to them to fetche the same away,...they would fall vpon them.
* 1615 , , A Relation of a Iourney begun An: Dom: 1610 , I 66:
- Her daughter Margerit was the stale to lure...them that otherwise flewe hyghe...and could not be gotten.
* 1670 , J. Eachard, Grounds Contempt of Clergy , 88:
- ...many of the Coffamen keeping beaytifull boyes, who ?erue as ?tales to procure them cu?tomers.
(crime, obsolete) An accomplice of a thief or criminal acting as bait.
* 1526 , W. Bonde, Pylgrimage of Perfection , III:
- Six-pence or a shilling to put into the Box, for a stale to decoy in the rest of the Parish.
* 1633 , S. Marmion, Fine Compan. , III iv:
- Their mynisters, be false bretherne]] or false sustern, stales of the [[devil, deuyll.
(obsolete) a partner whose beloved abandons or torments him in favor of another.
* 1578 , J. Lyly, Euphues , 33:
- This is Captain Whibble, the Towne stale , For all cheating imployments.
* 1588 , T. Hughes, Misfortunes Arthur , I ii 3:
- I perceiue Lucilla (sayd he) that I was made thy stale , and Philautus thy laughinge stocke.
* 1611 , T. Middleton & al., Roaring Girle :
- Was I then chose and wedded for his stale ?
* , Comedy of Errors , II i 100:
- Did I for this loose all my friends...to be made A stale to a common whore?
* J. Fletcher & al. Little French Lawyer , III iv:
- But, too vnruly Deere, he breakes the pale And feedes from home; poore I am but his stale .
(obsolete) A patsy, a pawn, someone used under some false pretext to forward another's (usu. sinister) designs; a stalking horse.
* 1580 , E. Grindal in 1710, J. Strype, Hist. E. Grindal , 252:
- This comes of rutting: Are we made stales to one another?
* 1595 , Part 3, III iii 260:
- That of the two nominated, one should be an unfit Man, and as it were a Stale , to bring the Office to the other.
* 1614 , W. Raleigh, Hist. World , I iv iii §19 239:
- Had he none else to make a stale but me?
* 1711 , J. Puckle, Club 20:
- Eurydice...meaning nothing lesse than to let her husband serue as a Stale , keeping the throne warme till another were growne old enough to sit in it.
(crime, obsolete) A prostitute of the lowest sort; any wanton woman.
* 1600 , , II ii 23:
- A pretence of kindness is the universal stale to all base projects.
* 1606 , S. Daniel, Queenes Arcadia , II i:
- Spare not to tell him, that he hath wronged his honor in marrying the renowned Claudio...to a contaminated stale .
* , Acts & Monuments , 265:
- But to be leaft for such a one as she, The stale of all, what will folke thinke of me?
(hunting, obsolete) Any decoy, either stuffed or manufactured.
* 1681 , J. Flavell, Method of Grace , XXXV 588:
- ...detesting as he said the insatiable impudency of a prostitute Stale .
* 1888 , G. M. Fenn, Dick o' the Fens , 53:
- 'Tis the living bird that makes the best stale to draw others into the net.
- If my live birds aren't all drownded and my stales spoiled.
(rare, obsolete, transitive) To serve as a decoy, to lure.
* 1557 , Tottel's Misc. , 198:
- The eye...Doth serue to stale her here and there where she doth come and go.