verb (used without object), stayed or staid, stay·ing.

verb (used with object), stayed or staid, stay·ing.



    stay the course, to persevere; endure to completion.

Origin of stay

1400–50; late Middle English staien < Anglo-French estaier, Old French estai-, stem of ester < Latin stāre to stand Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for stay the course




(intr) to continue or remain in a certain place, position, etcto stay outside
(copula) to continue to be; remainto stay awake
(intr often foll by at) to reside temporarily, esp as a guestto stay at a hotel
(tr) to remain for a specified periodto stay the weekend
(intr) Scot and Southern African to reside permanently or habitually; live
archaic to stop or cause to stop
(intr) to wait, pause, or tarry
(tr) to delay or hinder
  1. to discontinue or suspend (a judicial proceeding)
  2. to hold in abeyance or restrain from enforcing (an order, decree, etc)
to endure (something testing or difficult, such as a race)a horse that stays the course
(intr; usually foll by with) to keep pace (with a competitor in a race, etc)
(intr) poker to raise one's stakes enough to stay in a round
(tr) to hold back or restrainto stay one's anger
(tr) to satisfy or appease (an appetite, etc) temporarily
(tr) archaic to quell or suppress
(intr) archaic to stand firm
stay put See put (def. 18)


the act of staying or sojourning in a place or the period during which one stays
the act of stopping or restraining or state of being stopped, etc
the suspension of a judicial proceeding, etcstay of execution
See also stay out

Word Origin for stay

C15 staien, from Anglo-French estaier, to stay, from Old French ester to stay, from Latin stāre to stand




anything that supports or steadies, such as a prop or buttress
a thin strip of metal, plastic, bone, etc, used to stiffen corsets, etc

verb (tr) archaic

(often foll by up) to prop or hold
(often foll by up) to comfort or sustain
(foll by on or upon) to cause to rely or depend

Word Origin for stay

C16: from Old French estaye, of Germanic origin; compare stay ³




a rope, cable, or chain, usually one of a set, used for bracing uprights, such as masts, funnels, flagpoles, chimneys, etc; guySee also stays (def. 2), stays (def. 3)

Word Origin for stay

Old English stæg; related to Old Norse stag, Middle Low German stach, Norwegian stagle wooden post
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 stay the course



"to remain," mid-15c., from Middle French estai-, stem of ester "to stay or stand," from Old French, from Latin stare "to stand" (cf. Italian stare, Spanish estar "to stand, to be"), from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). Originally "come to a halt;" sense of "remain" is first recorded 1570s.

Noun senses of "appliance for stopping," "period of remaining in a place," and (judicial) "suspension of proceeding" all developed 1525-1550. Stay-at-home (adj.) is from 1806. Stay put is first recorded 1843, American English. "To stay put is to keep still, remain in order. A vulgar expression" [Bartlett]. Phrase stay the course is originally (1885) in reference to horses holding out till the end of a race.



"support, prop, brace," 1510s, from Middle French estaie "piece of wood used as a support," perhaps from Frankish *staka "support," from Proto-Germanic *stagaz (cf. Middle Dutch stake "stick," Old English steli "steel" stæg "rope used to support a mast"), from PIE *stak- (see stay (n.2)). If not, then from the root of stay (v.). Stays "laced underbodice" is attested from c.1600.



"strong rope which supports a ship's mast," from Old English stæg, from Proto-Germanic *stagan (cf. Dutch stag, Low German stach, German Stag, Old Norse stag), from PIE *stak-, ultimately an extended form of root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). The verb meaning "secure or steady with stays" is first recorded 1620s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with stay the course

stay the course

Hold or persevere to the end, as in No, he's not resigning; he's going to stay the course. This metaphoric expression, alluding to a horse running an entire race, was first recorded in 1916.


In addition to the idioms beginning with stay

  • staying power
  • stay over
  • stay put
  • stay the course
  • stay with

also see:

  • here to stay
  • (stay) in touch
  • (stay on one's) right side
  • should have stood (stayed) in bed
  • stick (stay) with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.