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[stak] /stæk/
a more or less orderly pile or heap:
a precariously balanced stack of books; a neat stack of papers.
a large, usually conical, circular, or rectangular pile of hay, straw, or the like.
Often, stacks. a set of shelves for books or other materials ranged compactly one above the other, as in a library.
stacks, the area or part of a library in which the books and other holdings are stored or kept.
a number of chimneys or flues grouped together.
a vertical duct for conveying warm air from a leader to a register on an upper story of a building.
a vertical waste pipe or vent pipe serving a number of floors.
Informal. a great quantity or number.
Radio. an antenna consisting of a number of components connected in a substantially vertical series.
Computers. a linear list arranged so that the last item stored is the first item retrieved.
Military. a conical, free-standing group of three rifles placed on their butts and hooked together with stacking swivels.
Also called air stack, stackup. Aviation. a group of airplanes circling over an airport awaiting their turns to land.
an English measure for coal and wood, equal to 108 cubic feet (3 cu. m).
Geology. a column of rock isolated from a shore by the action of waves.
  1. a given quantity of chips that can be bought at one time, as in poker or other gambling games.
  2. the quantity of chips held by a player at a given point in a gambling game.
verb (used with object)
to pile, arrange, or place in a stack:
to stack hay; to stack rifles.
to cover or load with something in stacks or piles.
to arrange or select unfairly in order to force a desired result, especially to load (a jury, committee, etc.) with members having a biased viewpoint:
The lawyer charged that the jury had been stacked against his client.
to keep (a number of incoming airplanes) flying nearly circular patterns at various altitudes over an airport where crowded runways, a low ceiling, or other temporary conditions prevent immediate landings.
verb (used without object)
to be arranged in or form a stack:
These chairs stack easily.
Verb phrases
stack up,
  1. Aviation. to control the flight patterns of airplanes waiting to land at an airport so that each circles at a designated altitude.
  2. Informal. to compare; measure up (often followed by against):
    How does the movie stack up against the novel?
  3. Informal. to appear plausible or in keeping with the known facts:
    Your story just doesn't stack up.
blow one's stack, Slang. to lose one's temper or become uncontrollably angry, especially to display one's fury, as by shouting:
When he came in and saw the mess he blew his stack.
stack the deck,
  1. to arrange cards or a pack of cards so as to cheat:
    He stacked the deck and won every hand.
  2. to manipulate events, information, etc., especially unethically, in order to achieve an advantage or desired result.
Origin of stack
1250-1300; (noun) Middle English stak < Old Norse stakkr haystack; (v.) Middle English stakken, derivative of the v.
Related forms
stacker, noun
stackless, adjective
restack, verb (used with object)
unstack, adjective, verb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for stack the deck


an ordered pile or heap
a large orderly pile of hay, straw, etc, for storage in the open air
(often pl) (library science) compactly spaced bookshelves, used to house collections of books in an area usually prohibited to library users
a number of aircraft circling an airport at different altitudes, awaiting their signal to land
a large amount: a stack of work
(military) a pile of rifles or muskets in the shape of a cone
(Brit) a measure of coal or wood equal to 108 cubic feet
a vertical pipe, such as the funnel of a ship or the soil pipe attached to the side of a building
a high column of rock, esp one isolated from the mainland by the erosive action of the sea
an area in a computer memory for temporary storage
verb (transitive)
to place in a stack; pile: to stack bricks on a lorry
to load or fill up with piles of something: to stack a lorry with bricks
to control (a number of aircraft waiting to land at an airport) so that each flies at a different altitude
stack the cards, to prearrange the order of a pack of cards secretly so that the deal will benefit someone
Derived Forms
stackable, adjective
stacker, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse stakkr haystack, of Germanic origin; related to Russian stog
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stack the deck



c.1300, "pile, heap, or group of things," from Old Norse stakkr "haystack" (cf. Danish stak, Swedish stack "heap, stack"), from Proto-Germanic *stakkoz, from PIE *stognos- (cf. Old Church Slavonic stogu "heap," Russian stog "haystack," Lithuanian stokas "pillar"), from root *steg- "pole, stick" (see stake (n.)). Meaning "set of shelves on which books are set out" is from 1879. Used of the chimneys of factories, locomotives, etc., since 1825.



early 14c., "to pile up grain," from stack (n.). Meaning "arrange unfairly" (in stack the deck) is first recorded 1825. Stack up "compare against" is 1903, from notion of piles of poker chips (1896). Related: Stacked; Stacking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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stack the deck in Science
An isolated, columnar mass or island of rock along a coastal cliff. Stacks are formed by the erosion of cliffs through wave action and are larger than chimneys.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for stack the deck

stack the cards

verb phrase

To prearrange something dishonestly; assure one's advantage fraudulently; cold deck: I should have had the job, but they stacked the cards against me (1825+)


Related Terms

blow one's top

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with stack the deck
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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