verb (used without object)

to put forth shoots from the base or root, as a plant; form a stool.
Slang. to turn informer; serve as a stool pigeon.


    fall between two stools, to fail, through hesitation or indecision, to select either of two alternatives.

Origin of stool

before 900; Middle English; Old English stōl; cognate with German Stuhl, Old Norse stōll, Gothic stols chair; all < Germanic *stō- (< Indo-European root of stand) + *-l- suffix; akin to OCS stolŭ throne
Related formsstool·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for stool

ottoman, footstool, hassock, footrest

Examples from the Web for stool

Contemporary Examples of stool

Historical Examples of stool

  • Gracie, shielded by the distance, turned on her stool and studied him.

  • His head dropped back on his chair; he propped his sagging legs on a stool.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • In the kitchen their mother sat on a stool, and peeled potatoes.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • And, casting the pen down, he turned his stool round impatiently.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • And he sprang from his stool, as their teacher entered the schoolroom door.

British Dictionary definitions for stool



a backless seat or footrest consisting of a small flat piece of wood, etc, resting on three or four legs, a pedestal, etc
a rootstock or base of a plant, usually a woody plant, from which shoots, etc, are produced
a cluster of shoots growing from such a base
mainly US a decoy used in hunting
waste matter evacuated from the bowels
a lavatory seat
(in W Africa, esp Ghana) a chief's throne
fall between two stools
  1. to fail through vacillation between two alternatives
  2. to be in an unsatisfactory situation through not belonging to either of two categories or groups

verb (intr)

(of a plant) to send up shoots from the base of the stem, rootstock, etc
to lure wildfowl with a decoy

Word Origin for stool

Old English stōl; related to Old Norse stōll, Gothic stōls, Old High German stuol chair, Greek stulos pillar
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 stool

Old English stol "seat for one person," from Proto-Germanic *stolaz (cf. Old Frisian stol, Old Norse stoll, Old High German stuol, German Stuhl "seat," Gothic stols "high seat, throne"), from PIE *sta-lo-, locative of root *sta- "to stand" (cf. Lithuanian pa-stolas "stand," Old Church Slavonic stolu "stool;" see stet).

Originally used of thrones (cf. cynestol "royal seat, throne"); change of meaning began with adoption of chair from French, which relegated stool to small seats without arms or backs, then "privy" (early 15c.) and thence to "bowel movement" (1530s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stool in Medicine




Evacuated fecal matter.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with stool


In addition to the idiom beginning with stool

  • stool pigeon

also see:

  • fall between the cracks (two stools)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.