stay Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun continuing or remaining in a place or state
    • they had a nice stay in Paris
    • a lengthy hospital stay
    • a four-month stay in bankruptcy court
  2. noun the state of inactivity following an interruption
    halt; stoppage; stop; hitch; arrest; check.
    • the negotiations were in arrest
    • held them in check
    • during the halt he got some lunch
    • the momentary stay enabled him to escape the blow
    • he spent the entire stop in his seat
  3. noun a judicial order forbidding some action until an event occurs or the order is lifted
    • the Supreme Court has the power to stay an injunction pending an appeal to the whole Court
  4. noun a thin strip of metal or bone that is used to stiffen a garment (e.g. a corset)
  5. noun (nautical) brace consisting of a heavy rope or wire cable used as a support for a mast or spar
  6. verb stay the same; remain in a certain state
    remain; rest.
    • The dress remained wet after repeated attempts to dry it
    • rest assured
    • stay alone
    • He remained unmoved by her tears
    • The bad weather continued for another week
  7. verb stay put (in a certain place); we are not moving to Cincinnati"
    stick around; stay put; stick.
    • We are staying in Detroit
    • Stay put in the corner here!
    • Stick around and you will learn something!
  8. verb dwell
    bide; abide.
    • You can stay with me while you are in town
    • stay a bit longer--the day is still young
  9. verb continue in a place, position, or situation
    remain; continue; stay on.
    • After graduation, she stayed on in Cambridge as a student adviser
    • Stay with me, please
    • despite student protests, he remained Dean for another year
    • She continued as deputy mayor for another year
  10. verb remain behind
    • I had to stay at home and watch the children
  11. verb stop or halt
    delay; detain.
    • Please stay the bloodshed!
  12. verb stay behind
    remain; persist.
    • The smell stayed in the room
    • The hostility remained long after they made up
  13. verb hang on during a trial of endurance
    outride; ride out; last out.
    • ride out the storm
  14. verb stop a judicial process
    • The judge stayed the execution order
  15. verb fasten with stays
  16. verb overcome or allay
    quell; appease.
    • quell my hunger


Stay noun
AS. stæg, akin to D., G., Icel., Sw., & Dan. stag; cf. OF. estai, F. étai, of Teutonic origin.
  1. (Naut.) A large, strong rope, employed to support a mast, by being extended from the head of one mast down to some other, or to some part of the vessel. Those which lead forward are called fore-and-aft stays; those which lead to the vessel's side are called backstays. See Illust. of Ship.
Stay transitive verb
OF. estayer, F. étayer to prop, fr. OF. estai, F. étai, a prop, probably fr. OD. stade, staeye, a prop, akin to E. stead; or cf. stay a rope to support a mast. Cf. Staid, a., Stay, v. i.
imperfect & past participle Stayed or Staid ; present participle & verbal noun Staying
  1. To stop from motion or falling; to prop; to fix firmly; to hold up; to support.
    Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. Ex. xvii. 12.
    Sallows and reeds . . . for vineyards useful found To stay thy vines. Dryden.
  2. To support from sinking; to sustain with strength; to satisfy in part or for the time.
    He has devoured a whole loaf of bread and butter, and it has not staid his stomach for a minute. Sir W. Scott.
  3. To bear up under; to endure; to support; to resist successfully.
    She will not stay the siege of loving terms, Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes. Shak.
  4. To hold from proceeding; to withhold; to restrain; to stop; to hold.
    Him backward overthrew and down him stayed With their rude hands grisly grapplement. Spenser.
    All that may stay their minds from thinking that true which they heartly wish were false. Hooker.
  5. To hinde to delay; to detain; to keep back.
    Your ships are stayed at Venice. Shak.
    This business staid me in London almost a week. Evelyn.
    I was willing to stay my reader on an argument that appeared to me new. Locke.
  6. To remain for the purpose of; to wait for. "I stay dinner there." Shak.
  7. To cause to cease; to put an end to.
    Stay your strife. Shak.
    For flattering planets seemed to say This child should ills of ages stay. Emerson.
  8. (Engin.) To fasten or secure with stays; as, to stay a flat sheet in a steam boiler.
  9. (Naut.) To tack, as a vessel, so that the other side of the vessel shall be presented to the wind.
Stay intransitive verb
*163. See Stay to hold up, prop.
  1. To remain; to continue in a place; to abide fixed for a space of time; to stop; to stand still.
    She would command the hasty sun to stay. Spenser.
    Stay, I command you; stay and hear me first. Dryden.
    I stay a little longer, as one stays To cover up the embers that still burn. Longfellow.
  2. To continue in a state.
    The flames augment, and stay At their full height, then languish to decay. Dryden.
  3. To wait; to attend; to forbear to act.
    I'll tell thee all my whole device When I am in my coach, which stays for us. Shak.
    The father can not stay any longer for the fortune. Locke.
  4. To dwell; to tarry; to linger.
    I must stay a little on one action. Dryden.
  5. To rest; to depend; to rely; to stand; to insist.
    I stay here on my bond. Shak.
    Ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon. Isa. xxx. 12.
  6. To come to an end; to cease; as, that day the storm stayed. Archaic
    Here my commission stays. Shak.
  7. To hold out in a race or other contest; as, a horse stays well. Colloq.
  8. (Naut.) To change tack; as a ship.
Stay noun
Cf. OF. estai, F. étai support, and E. stay a rope to support a mast.
  1. That which serves as a prop; a support. "My only strength and stay." Milton.
    Trees serve as so many stays for their vines. Addison.
    Lord Liverpool is the single stay of this ministry. Coleridge.
  2. pl. A corset stiffened with whalebone or other material, worn by women, and rarely by men.
    How the strait stays the slender waist constrain. Gay.
  3. Continuance in a place; abode for a space of time; sojourn; as, you make a short stay in this city.
    Make haste, and leave thy business and thy care; No mortal interest can be worth thy stay. Dryden.
    Embrace the hero and his stay implore. Waller.
  4. Cessation of motion or progression; stand; stop.
    Made of sphere metal, never to decay Until his revolution was at stay. Milton.
    Affairs of state seemed rather to stand at a stay. Hayward.
  5. Hindrance; let; check. Obs.
    They were able to read good authors without any stay, if the book were not false. Robynson (more's Utopia).
  6. Restraint of passion; moderation; caution; steadiness; sobriety. Obs. "Not grudging that thy lust hath bounds and stays." Herbert.
    The wisdom, stay, and moderation of the king. Bacon.
    With prudent stay he long deferred The rough contention. Philips.
  7. (Engin.) Strictly, a part in tension to hold the parts together, or stiffen them.

Webster 1913