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




something used to support or steady a thing; prop; brace.
a flat strip of steel, plastic, etc., used especially for stiffening corsets, collars, etc.
a long rod running between opposite walls, heads or sides of a furnace, boiler, tank, or the like, to strengthen them against internal pressures.
stays, Chiefly British. a corset.

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

to support, prop, or hold up (sometimes followed by up).
to sustain or strengthen mentally or spiritually.
to rest on (something, as a foundation or base) for support.
to cause something to become fixed or to rest on (a support, foundation, base, etc.)

Origin of stay

1505–15; apparently same as stay3 (compare Old French estayer to hold in place, support, perhaps derivative of Middle English steye stay3)


[stey]Chiefly Nautical


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

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

to support or secure with a stay or stays: to stay a mast.
to put (a ship) on the other tack.

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

(of a ship) to change to the other tack.

Origin of stay

before 1150; Middle English stey(e), Old English stæg; cognate with German Stag Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for staying

Contemporary Examples of staying

Historical Examples of staying

  • I shall be staying with Aunt Cornelia a few days after to-morrow.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • She came several times, staying half an hour, an hour, two hours.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Austin had come down for Whitsuntide, and a lady was staying in the house.


    William J. Locke

  • She understood that Robin had been staying in Sidmouth for his health.

  • I told him that I was staying with the Indian Runi, his neighbour.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

British Dictionary definitions for staying




(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 staying



"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 staying


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.