or stye

noun, plural sties. Ophthalmology.
  1. a circumscribed abscess caused by bacterial infection of the glands on the edge of the eyelid; hordeolum.

Origin of sty

1610–20; by false division of Middle English styanye sty (styan (Old English stīgend sty, literally, rising) + ye eye), taken to be sty on eye Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stye

Historical Examples of stye

  • He did—Stye Head—he left me to go there at daybreak this morning.

  • As they approached the stye, Harry turned away his head with a look of disgust.

    David Elginbrod

    George MacDonald

  • I call it sensible for everyone to stye in their proper spere.

    The Dust Flower

    Basil King

  • Accordingly, he visited the patient, which lay groaning in the stye.

    An Old English Home

    S. Baring-Gould

  • A Sow had just farrowed, and lay in the stye, with her whole litter of pigs about her.

British Dictionary definitions for stye



noun plural styes or sties
  1. inflammation of a sebaceous gland of the eyelid, usually caused by bacteriatechnical name hordeolum

Word Origin for stye

C15 styanye (mistakenly taken as sty on eye), from Old English stīgend rising, hence swelling, stye + ye eye


noun plural sties
  1. a pen in which pigs are housed and fed
  2. any filthy or corrupt place
verb sties, stying or stied
  1. to enclose or be enclosed in a sty

Word Origin for sty

Old English stig; related to Old Norse stīa pen, fold, Old High German stīga, Middle Dutch stije
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 stye



"pen for pigs," Old English sti, stig "hall, pen" (in sti-fearh), from Proto-Germanic *stijan (cf. Old Norse stia "sty, kennel," Old High German stiga "pen for small cattle").



"inflamed swelling in the eyelid," 1610s, probably a back-formation from Middle English styany (as though sty on eye), mid-15c., from Old English stigend "sty," literally "riser," from present participle of stigan "go up, rise," from Proto-Germanic *stig- (see stair).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stye in Medicine


n. pl. sties
  1. Inflammation of one or more sebaceous glands of an eyelid.hordeolum
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.