the stem or main axis of a plant.
any slender supporting or connecting part of a plant, as the petiole of a leaf, the peduncle of a flower, or the funicle of an ovule.
a similar structural part of an animal.
a stem, shaft, or slender supporting part of anything.
Automotive. a slender lever, usually mounted on or near the steering wheel, that is used by the driver to control a signal or function: The horn button is on the turn-signal stalk.

Origin of stalk

1275–1325; Middle English stalke, apparently equivalent to Old English stal(u) stave + -k diminutive suffix
Related formsstalk·like, adjective



verb (used without object)

to pursue or approach prey, quarry, etc., stealthily.
to walk with measured, stiff, or haughty strides: He was so angry he stalked away without saying goodbye.
to proceed in a steady, deliberate, or sinister manner: Famine stalked through the nation.
Obsolete. to walk or go stealthily along.

verb (used with object)

to pursue (game, a person, etc.) stealthily.
to proceed through (an area) in search of prey or quarry: to stalk the woods for game.
to proceed or spread through in a steady or sinister manner: Disease stalked the land.


an act or course of stalking quarry, prey, or the like: We shot the mountain goat after a five-hour stalk.
a slow, stiff stride or gait.

Origin of stalk

1250–1300; Middle English stalken (v.), representing the base of Old English bestealcian to move stealthily, stealcung stalking (gerund); akin to steal
Related formsstalk·a·ble, adjectivestalk·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for stalk

Contemporary Examples of stalk

Historical Examples of stalk

  • Then at last she reached forth her hand and broke the lily from its stalk.

  • Some lives have not even a stalk on which fruits could hang, even if they did grow in five minutes.

    Pax Vobiscum

    Henry Drummond

  • The girl took up a stalk of grass and nibbled it in laughing meditation.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • When he could no longer endure, he would get up and stalk determinedly away from them.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • Its flower is on the top of the stalk, which is sometimes eight feet high.

    The History of Louisiana

    Le Page Du Pratz

British Dictionary definitions for stalk




the main stem of a herbaceous plant
any of various subsidiary plant stems, such as a leafstalk (petiole) or flower stalk (peduncle)
a slender supporting structure in animals such as crinoids and certain protozoans, coelenterates, and barnacles
any long slender supporting shaft or column
Derived Formsstalked, adjectivestalkless, adjectivestalklike, adjective

Word Origin for stalk

C14: probably a diminutive formed from Old English stalu upright piece of wood; related to Old Frisian staal handle




to follow or approach (game, prey, etc) stealthily and quietly
to pursue persistently and, sometimes, attack (a person with whom one is obsessed, often a celebrity)
to spread over (a place) in a menacing or grim mannerfever stalked the camp
(intr) to walk in a haughty, stiff, or threatening wayhe stalked out in disgust
to search or draw (a piece of land) for prey


the act of stalking
a stiff or threatening stride
Derived Formsstalker, noun

Word Origin for stalk

Old English bestealcian to walk stealthily; related to Middle Low German stolkeren, Danish stalke
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 stalk

"stem of a plant," early 14c., probably a diminutive (with -k suffix) of stale "one of the uprights of a ladder, handle, stalk," from Old English stalu "wooden part" (as of a harp), from Proto-Germanic *stalo; related to Old English steala "stalk, support," and steall "place" (see stall (n.1)).


"pursue stealthily," Old English -stealcian, as in bestealcian "to steal along," from Proto-Germanic *stalkojanan, probably from a frequentative of the root of steal (cf. hark from hear, talk from tell). Or it may be from a sense of stalk (v.1), influenced by stalk (n.). Meaning "harass obsessively" first recorded 1991. Related: Stalked; stalking.

A stalking-horse was literally a horse trained to allow a fowler to conceal himself behind it to get within range of the game; figurative sense of "person who participates in a proceeding to disguise its real purpose" is recorded from 1610s.


"walk haughtily" (opposite meaning of stalk (v.1)) is 1520s, perhaps from stalk (n.) with a notion of "long, awkward strides," or from Old English stealcung "a stalking," related to stealc "steep, lofty."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stalk in Medicine




A slender or elongated support or structure, as one that connects or supports an organ.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

stalk in Science



The main stem of a plant.
A slender structure that supports a plant part, such as a flower or leaf.
A slender supporting structure in certain other organisms, such as the reproductive structure in plasmodial slime molds or the part of a mushroom below the cap.
A slender supporting or connecting part of an animal, such as the eyestalk of a lobster.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.