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[stahrch] /stɑrtʃ/
a white, tasteless, solid carbohydrate, (C 6 H 1 0 O 5) n , occurring in the form of minute granules in the seeds, tubers, and other parts of plants, and forming an important constituent of rice, corn, wheat, beans, potatoes, and many other vegetable foods.
a commercial preparation of this substance used to stiffen textile fabrics in laundering.
starches, foods rich in natural starch.
stiffness or formality, as of manner:
He is so full of starch he can't relax.
Informal. vigor; energy; stamina; boldness.
verb (used with object)
to stiffen or treat with starch.
to make stiff or rigidly formal (sometimes followed by up).
Origin of starch
late Middle English
1375-1425; (v.) late Middle English sterchen orig., to stiffen, Old English stercean to make stiff, strengthen, derivative of stearc stark; cognate with German stärken to strengthen; (noun) late Middle English starch(e), sterche, derivative of the v.
Related forms
starchless, adjective
starchlike, adjective
overstarch, verb (used with object)
overstarched, adjective
unstarched, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for starched
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He wears sandals and has discarded the abomination of starched linen.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • His starched collars and got-up shirt-fronts were achievements of character.

    Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
  • The best account we have of the starched ruff is by a man who wrote to abuse it.

  • Neither it nor any other portion of the child's clothing should be starched.

    The Physical Life of Woman: Dr. George H Napheys
  • As well expect a breadth of starched brown holland to nestle.

  • A mellow, womanly cry of pity came from under the starched coif.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • The girls rustled their starched petticoats and nudged one another.

    Country Neighbors

    Alice Brown
  • Her starched clothes sounded the same as the rustle of distant hail.

    When the Owl Cries Paul Bartlett
British Dictionary definitions for starched


a polysaccharide composed of glucose units that occurs widely in plant tissues in the form of storage granules, consisting of amylose and amylopectin related adjective amylaceous
Also called amylum. a starch obtained from potatoes and some grain: it is fine white powder that forms a translucent viscous solution on boiling with water and is used to stiffen fabric and in many industrial processes
any food containing a large amount of starch, such as rice and potatoes
stiff or pompous formality of manner or conduct
(transitive) to stiffen with or soak in starch
(of a person) formal; stiff
Derived Forms
starcher, noun
starchlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English stercan (unattested except by the past participle sterced) to stiffen; related to Old Saxon sterkian, Old High German sterken to strengthen, Dutch sterken; see stark
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 starched



c.1400, from Old English *stercan (Mercian), *stiercan (West Saxon) "make rigid," found in stercedferhð "fixed, hard, resolute" (related to stearc "stiff"), from Proto-Germanic *starkijanan (cf. German Stärke "strength, starch"), from PIE root *ster- "strong, firm, stiff, rigid" (see stark). Related: Starched; starching.



"pasty substance used to stiffen cloth," mid-15c., from starch (v.). Figurative sense of "stiffness of manner" is recorded from 1705.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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starched in Medicine

starch (stärch)

  1. A naturally abundant nutrient carbohydrate found chiefly in the seeds, fruits, tubers, roots, and stem pith of plants, and commonly prepared as a white, amorphous, tasteless powder used in powders, ointments, and pastes. Also called amylum.

  2. A food having a high content of starch, such as rice, bread, and potatoes.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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starched in Science
  1. A carbohydrate that is the chief form of stored energy in plants, especially wheat, corn, rice, and potatoes. Starch is a mixture of two different polysaccharides built out of glucose units, and forms a white, tasteless powder when purified. It is an important source of nutrition and is also used to make adhesives, paper, and textiles.

  2. Any of various substances, including natural starch, used to stiffen fabrics.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with starched
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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