the act or an instance of stalking, or harassing another in an aggressive, often threatening and illegal manner: Stalking is now a crime in many states.


of or relating to the act of pursuing or harassing: Stalking laws have alleviated some problems for famous people.

Origin of stalking

stalk2 (verb) + -ing1
Related formsstalk·ing·ly, adverb



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

Related Words for stalking

pursue, hunt, haunt, stride, ambush, chase, pace, track, drive, trail, tail, shadow, approach

Examples from the Web for stalking

Contemporary Examples of stalking

Historical Examples of stalking

  • If he cannot get within the hundred yards by stalking, then he should refuse the chance.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Jim describes their hunt as the most wonderful bit of stalking he had ever seen.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

  • Especially adept did he become in stalking small living things.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • He was stalking about the room now, with his hands in his pockets, whistling.

    The Great Hunger

    Johan Bojer

  • He had no thoughts for aught else but the triumph of his stalking.

    The Fiery Totem

    Argyll Saxby

British Dictionary definitions for stalking




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 stalking



"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

stalking 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.

stalking 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.