See more synonyms for starch 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.
  3. starches, foods rich in natural starch.
  4. stiffness or formality, as of manner: He is so full of starch he can't relax.
  5. Informal. vigor; energy; stamina; boldness.
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

1375–1425; (v.) late Middle English sterchen orig., to stiffen, Old English stercean to make stiff, strengthen, derivative of stearc stark; cognate with German stärken to strengthen; (noun) late Middle English starch(e), sterche, derivative of the v.
Related formsstarch·less, adjectivestarch·like, adjectiveo·ver·starch, verb (used with object)o·ver·starched, adjectiveun·starched, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for starch


  1. a polysaccharide composed of glucose units that occurs widely in plant tissues in the form of storage granules, consisting of amylose and amylopectinRelated 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
  3. any food containing a large amount of starch, such as rice and potatoes
  4. stiff or pompous formality of manner or conduct
  1. (tr) to stiffen with or soak in starch
  1. (of a person) formal; stiff
Derived Formsstarcher, nounstarchlike, adjective

Word Origin for 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
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 starch

c.1400, from Old English *stercan (Mercian), *stiercan (West Saxon) "make rigid," found in stercedferhð "fixed, hard, resolute" (related to stearc "stiff"), from Proto-Germanic *starkijanan (cf. German Stärke "strength, starch"), from PIE root *ster- "strong, firm, stiff, rigid" (see stark). Related: Starched; starching.


"pasty substance used to stiffen cloth," mid-15c., from starch (v.). Figurative sense of "stiffness of manner" is recorded from 1705.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

starch in Medicine


  1. A naturally abundant nutrient carbohydrate found chiefly in the seeds, fruits, tubers, roots, and stem pith of plants, and commonly prepared as a white, amorphous, tasteless powder used in powders, ointments, and pastes.amylum
  2. A food having a high content of starch, such as rice, bread, and potatoes.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

starch in Science


  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.

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.