[ stahrch ]
See synonyms for: starchstarchedstarchingstarchlike on

  1. a white, tasteless, solid carbohydrate, (C6H10O5)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.

  2. a commercial preparation of this substance used to stiffen textile fabrics in laundering.

  1. starches, foods rich in natural starch.

  2. stiffness or formality, as of manner: He is so full of starch he can't relax.

  3. Informal. physical or mental energy; vigor.

verb (used with object)
  1. to stiffen or treat with starch.

  2. to make stiff or rigidly formal (sometimes followed by up).

Origin of starch

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English (verb) sterchen originally, “to stiffen,” Old English stercean “to make stiff, strengthen,” derivative of stearc “stiff, firm”; cognate with German stärken “to strengthen”; see origin at stark

Other words for starch

Other words from starch

  • starchless, adjective
  • starchlike, adjective
  • o·ver·starch, verb (used with object)
  • o·ver·starched, adjective
  • un·starched, adjective

Words Nearby starch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use starch in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for starch


/ (stɑːtʃ) /

  1. 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

  2. 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

  1. any food containing a large amount of starch, such as rice and potatoes

  2. stiff or pompous formality of manner or conduct

  1. (tr) to stiffen with or soak in starch

  1. (of a person) formal; stiff

Origin of starch

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

Derived forms of starch

  • starcher, noun
  • starchlike, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for starch


[ stärch ]

  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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with starch


see take the starch out of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.