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or stye

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noun, plural sties. Ophthalmology.
  1. a circumscribed abscess caused by bacterial infection of the glands on the edge of the eyelid; hordeolum.

Origin of sty2

1610–20; by false division of Middle English styanye sty (styan (Old English stīgend sty, literally, rising) + ye eye), taken to be sty on eye
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stye

Historical Examples

  • He did—Stye Head—he left me to go there at daybreak this morning.

    The Shadow of a Crime

    Hall Caine

  • As they approached the stye, Harry turned away his head with a look of disgust.

    David Elginbrod

    George MacDonald

  • I call it sensible for everyone to stye in their proper spere.

    The Dust Flower

    Basil King

  • Accordingly, he visited the patient, which lay groaning in the stye.

    An Old English Home

    S. Baring-Gould

  • A Sow had just farrowed, and lay in the stye, with her whole litter of pigs about her.

British Dictionary definitions for stye



noun plural styes or sties
  1. inflammation of a sebaceous gland of the eyelid, usually caused by bacteriatechnical name hordeolum

Word Origin

C15 styanye (mistakenly taken as sty on eye), from Old English stīgend rising, hence swelling, stye + ye eye


noun plural sties
  1. a pen in which pigs are housed and fed
  2. any filthy or corrupt place
verb sties, stying or stied
  1. to enclose or be enclosed in a sty

Word Origin

Old English stig; related to Old Norse stīa pen, fold, Old High German stīga, Middle Dutch stije
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

Word Origin and History for stye



"pen for pigs," Old English sti, stig "hall, pen" (in sti-fearh), from Proto-Germanic *stijan (cf. Old Norse stia "sty, kennel," Old High German stiga "pen for small cattle").



"inflamed swelling in the eyelid," 1610s, probably a back-formation from Middle English styany (as though sty on eye), mid-15c., from Old English stigend "sty," literally "riser," from present participle of stigan "go up, rise," from Proto-Germanic *stig- (see stair).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stye in Medicine


n. pl. sties
  1. Inflammation of one or more sebaceous glands of an eyelid.hordeolum
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.