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See more synonyms for stall on Thesaurus.com
  1. a compartment in a stable or shed for the accommodation of one animal.
  2. a stable or shed for horses or cattle.
  3. a booth or stand in which merchandise is displayed for sale, or in which some business is carried on (sometimes used in combination): a butcher's stall; a bookstall.
  4. carrel(def 1).
  5. one of a number of fixed enclosed seats in the choir or chancel of a church for the use of the clergy.
  6. a pew.
  7. any small compartment or booth for a specific activity or housing a specific thing: a shower stall.
  8. a rectangular space marked off or reserved for parking a car or other vehicle, as in a parking lot.
  9. an instance or the condition of causing an engine, or a vehicle powered by an engine, to stop, especially by supplying it with a poor fuel mixture or by overloading it.
  10. Aeronautics. an instance or the condition of causing an airplane to fly at an angle of attack greater than the angle of maximum lift, causing loss of control and a downward spin.Compare critical angle(def 2).
  11. a protective covering for a finger or toe, as various guards and sheaths or one finger of a glove.
  12. British. a chairlike seat in a theater, separated from others by arms or rails, especially one in the front section of the parquet.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to assign to, put, or keep in a stall or stalls, as an animal or a car.
  2. to confine in a stall for fattening, as cattle.
  3. to cause (a motor or the vehicle it powers) to stop, especially by supplying it with a poor fuel mixture or overloading it.
  4. Aeronautics.
    1. to put (an airplane) into a stall.
    2. to lose control of or crash (an airplane) from so doing.
  5. to bring to a standstill; check the progress or motion of, especially unintentionally.
  6. to cause to stick fast, as in mire or snow.
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verb (used without object)
  1. (of an engine, car, airplane, etc.) to be stalled or go through the process of stalling (sometimes followed by out).
  2. to come to a standstill; be brought to a stop.
  3. to stick fast, as in mire.
  4. to occupy a stall, as an animal.
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Origin of stall1

before 900; Middle English; Old English steall; cognate with German Stall, Old Norse stallr; akin to Old English stellan, German stellen to put, place
Related formsstall-like, adjective


verb (used without object)
  1. to delay, especially by evasion or deception.
  2. Sports. to prolong holding the ball as a tactic to prevent the opponent from scoring, as when one's team has the lead.Compare freeze(def 31).
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verb (used with object)
  1. to delay or put off, especially by evasion or deception (often followed by off): He stalled the police for 15 minutes so his accomplice could get away.
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  1. a pretext, as a ruse, trick, or the like, used to delay or deceive.
  2. Underworld Slang. the member of a pickpocket's team who distracts the victim long enough for the theft to take place.Compare wire(def 11).
  3. Sports. slowdown(def 3).
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Origin of stall2

1490–1500; earlier stale decoy bird (> Anglo-French estale decoy pigeon), Old English stæl- decoy (in stælhrān decoy reindeer); akin to stall1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for stalled


    1. a compartment in a stable or shed for confining or feeding a single animal
    2. another name for stable 1 (def. 1)
  1. a small often temporary stand or booth for the display and sale of goods
  2. (in a church)
    1. one of a row of seats, usually divided from the others by armrests or a small screen, for the use of the choir or clergy
    2. a pen
  3. an instance of an engine stalling
  4. a condition of an aircraft in flight in which a reduction in speed or an increase in the aircraft's angle of attack causes a sudden loss of lift resulting in a downward plunge
  5. any small room or compartment
  6. British
    1. a seat in a theatre or cinema that resembles a chair, usually fixed to the floor
    2. (plural)the area of seats on the ground floor of a theatre or cinema nearest to the stage or screen
  7. a tubelike covering for a finger, as in a glove
  8. (plural) short for starting stalls
  9. set out one's stall British to make the necessary arrangements for the achievement of something and show that one is determined to achieve it
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  1. to cause (a motor vehicle or its engine) to stop, usually by incorrect use of the clutch or incorrect adjustment of the fuel mixture, or (of an engine or motor vehicle) to stop, usually for these reasons
  2. to cause (an aircraft) to go into a stall or (of an aircraft) to go into a stall
  3. to stick or cause to stick fast, as in mud or snow
  4. (tr) to confine (an animal) in a stall
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Word Origin

Old English steall a place for standing; related to Old High German stall, and stellen to set


  1. to employ delaying tactics towards (someone); be evasive
  2. (intr) sport, mainly US to play or fight below one's best in order to deceive
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  1. an evasive move; pretext
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Word Origin

C16: from Anglo-French estale bird used as a decoy, influenced by stall 1
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 stalled



"place in a stable for animals," Old English steall "place where cattle are kept, place, position," from Proto-Germanic *stallaz (cf. Old Norse stallr "pedestal for idols, altar," Old Frisian stal, Old High German stall "stand, place, stable, stall," German Stall "stable," Stelle "place"), earlier *stalnaz- or *stathlo-, from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place (cf. Greek stele "standing block, slab," Latin stolidus "insensible, dull, brutish," properly "unmovable").

The word passed into Romanic languages (cf. Italian stallo "place," stalla "stable;" Old French estal "place, position, stand, stall," French étal "butcher's stall"). Several meanings, including that of "a stand for selling" (mid-13c., implied in stallage "tax levied for the privilege of erecting a stall at a market or fair"), are from (or influenced by) Old French estal. Meaning "partially enclosed seat in a choir" is attested from c.1400; that of "urinal in a men's room" is from 1967.

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"pretense to avoid doing something," variant of stale "bird used as a decoy to lure other birds" (mid-15c.), from Anglo-French estale "decoy, pigeon used to lure a hawk" (13c., cf. stool pigeon), literally "standstill," from Old French estal "place, stand, stall," from Frankish *stal- "position," cognate with Old English steall (see stall (n.1)).

Cf. Old English stælhran "decoy reindeer," German stellvogel "decoy bird." Figurative sense of "deception, means of allurement" is first recorded 1520s. Meaning "evasive trick or story, pretext, excuse" first recorded 1812 (see stall (v.)); sense entwined with that of "thief's assistant" (1590s).

The stallers up are gratified with such part of the gains acquired as the liberality of the knuckling gentlemen may prompt them to bestow. [J.H. Vaux, "Flash Dictionary," 1812]
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1590s, "to screen a pickpocket from observation," from stall (n.2) "decoy." Meaning "to precaricate, be evasive, play for time" is attested from 1903. Of engines or engine-powered vehicles, it is attested from 1904 (transitive), 1914 (intransitive), from earlier sense of "to become stuck, come to a standstill" (c.1400), which is directly from Old French estale or Old English steall (see stall (n.1)). Related: Stalled; stalling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper