[ stey ]
See synonyms for: staystaidstayedstaying on

verb (used without object),stayed or staid, stay·ing.
  1. to spend some time in a place, in a situation, with a person or group, etc.: He stayed in the army for ten years.

  2. to continue to be as specified, as to condition or state: to stay clean.

  1. to hold out or endure, as in a contest or task (followed by with or at): Please stay with the project as long as you can.

  2. to keep up, as with a competitor (followed by with).

  3. Poker. to continue in a hand by matching an ante, bet, or raise.

  4. to stop or halt.

  5. to pause or wait, as for a moment, before proceeding or continuing; linger or tarry.

  6. Archaic. to cease or desist.

  7. Archaic. to stand firm.

verb (used with object),stayed or staid, stay·ing.
  1. to stop or halt.

  2. to hold back, detain, or restrain, as from going further.

  1. to suspend or delay (actions, proceedings, etc.).

  2. to appease or satisfy temporarily the cravings of (the stomach, appetite, etc.).

  3. to remain through or during (a period of time): We stayed two days in San Francisco.

  4. to remain to the end of; remain beyond (usually followed by out).

  5. Archaic. to await.

  1. the act of stopping or being stopped.

  2. a stop, halt, or pause; a standstill.

  1. a sojourn or temporary residence: a week's stay in Miami.

  2. Law. a stoppage or arrest of action; suspension of a judicial proceeding: The governor granted a stay of execution.

Idioms about stay

  1. stay the course, to persevere; endure to completion.

Origin of stay

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English staien, from Anglo-French estaier, Old French ester, from Latin stāre “to stand, stand up, be standing, stand in attendance”; see origin at stand

Other definitions for stay (2 of 3)

[ stey ]

  1. something used to support or steady a thing; prop; brace.

  2. a flat strip of steel, plastic, etc., used especially for stiffening corsets, collars, etc.

  1. a long rod running between opposite walls, heads or sides of a furnace, boiler, tank, or the like, to strengthen them against internal pressures.

  2. stays, Chiefly British. a corset.

verb (used with object),stayed, stay·ing.
  1. to support, prop, or hold up (sometimes followed by up).

  2. to sustain or strengthen mentally or spiritually.

  1. to rest on (something, as a foundation or base) for support.

  2. to cause something to become fixed or to rest on (a support, foundation, base, etc.)

Origin of stay

First recorded in 1505–15; apparently same as stay3 (compare Old French estayer “to hold in place, support”), or perhaps derivative of Middle English steye “rope to steady a mast”; see stay3

Other definitions for stay (3 of 3)

[ stey ]

  1. any of various strong ropes or wires for steadying masts, funnels, etc.

verb (used with object),stayed, stay·ing.
  1. to support or secure with a stay or stays: to stay a mast.

  2. to put (a ship) on the other tack.

verb (used without object),stayed, stay·ing.
  1. (of a ship) to change to the other tack.

Origin of stay

First recorded before 1150; Middle English stai, stey(e), Old English stæg; cognate with German Stag, Dutch stag, Old Norse stag Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use stay in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stay (1 of 3)


/ (steɪ) /

  1. (intr) to continue or remain in a certain place, position, etc: to stay outside

  2. (copula) to continue to be; remain: to stay awake

  1. (intr often foll by at) to reside temporarily, esp as a guest: to stay at a hotel

  2. (tr) to remain for a specified period: to stay the weekend

  3. (intr) Scot and Southern African to reside permanently or habitually; live

  4. archaic to stop or cause to stop

  5. (intr) to wait, pause, or tarry

  6. (tr) to delay or hinder

  7. (tr)

    • to discontinue or suspend (a judicial proceeding)

    • to hold in abeyance or restrain from enforcing (an order, decree, etc)

  8. to endure (something testing or difficult, such as a race): a horse that stays the course

  9. (intr; usually foll by with) to keep pace (with a competitor in a race, etc)

  10. (intr) poker to raise one's stakes enough to stay in a round

  11. (tr) to hold back or restrain: to stay one's anger

  12. (tr) to satisfy or appease (an appetite, etc) temporarily

  13. (tr) archaic to quell or suppress

  14. (intr) archaic to stand firm

  15. stay put See put (def. 18)

  1. the act of staying or sojourning in a place or the period during which one stays

  2. the act of stopping or restraining or state of being stopped, etc

  1. the suspension of a judicial proceeding, etc: stay of execution

Origin of stay

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

British Dictionary definitions for stay (2 of 3)


/ (steɪ) /

  1. anything that supports or steadies, such as a prop or buttress

  2. a thin strip of metal, plastic, bone, etc, used to stiffen corsets, etc

verb(tr) archaic
  1. (often foll by up) to prop or hold

  2. (often foll by up) to comfort or sustain

  1. (foll by on or upon) to cause to rely or depend

Origin of stay

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

British Dictionary definitions for stay (3 of 3)


/ (steɪ) /

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

Origin of 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with stay


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.