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A man adopting the baddha utthita parsvakonasana asana or yoga stance (sense 1)
Italy's Arianna Errigo (left) and Germany’s Carolin Golubytskyi taking fencing stances (sense 1) during the 2013 World Fencing Championships in Budapest, Hungary

From Middle English staunce (place to stand; battle station; position; standing in society; circumstance, situation; stanchion), from Old French estance (predicament; situation; sojourn, stay)[1] (compare modern French stance (stanza; position one stands in when golfing)), from Italian stanza (room, standing place; stanza),[2] from Vulgar Latin *stantia, from Latin stō (to stand; to remain, stay), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *steh₂- (to stand (up)). The word is cognate with Spanish estante (shelf) and a doublet of stanza.

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]



stance (plural stances)

  1. The manner, pose, or posture in which one stands.
    The fencer’s stance showed he was ready to begin.
    • 2006, Mark Mumenthaler, Heinrich Mattle, “The Neurological Examination”, in Ethan Taub, transl., Fundamentals of Neurology: An Illustrated Guide, Stuttgart, New York, N.Y.: Georg Thieme Verlag, →ISBN, page 13, column 1:
      Stance and gait are best examined with the patient barefoot; meaningful findings can be obtained only if the patient has enough room to walk in. The testing of stance and gait often provides important clues to the type of disease process that is present.
    • 2010 May, Gar Ryness [i.e., George A. Ryness IV], Caleb Dewart, “Cal Ripken Jr.”, in Batting Stance Guy: A Love Letter to Baseball, 1st Scribner trade paperback edition, Scribner, →ISBN, page 71:
      Peter Gammons told me Yaz switched his stance every year, but Cal [Ripken Jr.]'s brother Billy [Ripken] said Cal switched his stance midseason, midgame, even mid-at-bat. [] The most beloved and memorable of the Ripken stances was "the Violin." Cal would bend his knees and slightly open his stance to face the pitcher. He would rest the bat on his shoulder while thrusting the bat knob back and forth toward the strike zone. This movement was widely considered Cal's batting masterpiece.
  2. One's opinion or point of view.
    Synonyms: position, posture, stand
    I don’t agree with your stance on gun control.
    • 2012 April 23, Angelique Chrisafis, “François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election”, in The Guardian[1], London, archived from the original on 15 September 2017:
      His [François Hollande's] stance as being against the world of finance and his proposal of a 75% tax on incomes over €1m (£817,000) was approved by a majority in polls. He was convinced that his more measured, if ploddingly serious, style would win out with an electorate tired of [Nicolas] Sarkozy's bling and frenetic policy initiatives.
  3. A place to stand; a position, a site, a station.
    1. (specifically, climbing) A foothold or ledge on which to set up a belay.
      • 2004, Mark Houston, Kathy Cosley, “Snow and Ice”, in Alpine Climbing: Techniques to Take You Higher, Seattle, Wash.: The Mountaineers Books, →ISBN, page 225, column 2:
        In a harness belay, the stance itself is the belayer's first line of defense, reducing the load the anchor must hold. The anchor in this case serves as little more than a backup (albeit a critical one) to the stance.
      • 2014 July 18, Thomas Kublak, “Problems when Rappelling”, in Mountaineering Methodology: Part III: Belaying and Rappelling, [s.l.]: Tomas Kublak, MMPublishing, →ISBN, page 180, column 2:
        There is always the option of clambering up slightly higher and building a new belay station (stance), take in the rope for a fellow climber, once again clamber up higher and once again build a new, higher stance … and so on until the rope reaches the stop where the upper end of the rope has become caught in the rock.
  4. (Scotland) A place for buses or taxis to await passengers; a bus stop, a taxi rank.
    Synonym: stand
    • 1867, “Stances”, in Bye-laws for the Hackney Carriages of Edinburgh, Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne & Company, →OCLC, pages 11–12:
      The number of Carriages at each of the Stances or divisions of Stances, and the spaces to be occupied, shall be fixed from time to time as may be found necessary. In the event of any New Stance being appointed during the currency of these Regulations, if said Stance shall be within half a mile of the nearest fixed Stance, the Fares from said New Stance shall be the same as from the Stance nearest to it.
  5. (Scotland) A place where a fair or market is held; a location where a street trader can carry on business.
    Synonym: stand
    • 1877 June 15, reported by Middleton Rettie [et al.], “Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Respondents (Pursuers).—R. V. Campbell. Rev. Alexander Wylie and Others (Trustees of Bath Street Baptist Church, Glasgow), Appellants (Defenders).—BalfourAlison.”, in Cases Decided in the Court of Session, Court of Justiciary, and House of Lords, [], volume IV (Fourth Series), Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, law booksellers: London: Stevens & Sons, →OCLC, page 894:
      To the action by the proprietor of a tenement in burgh against the proprietor of the adjoining stance to recover one-half the cost of a mutual gable, of which the defender had taken the use, it was pleaded in defence (1) that the mutual gable having been erected by the common author of the parties no claim arose to the proprietor of one stance against the proprietor of the other; []
  6. (obsolete, rare) A stanza.
    • [1613], Geo[rge] Chapman, The Memorable Maske of the Two Honorable Houses or Innes of Court; the Middle Temple, and Lyncolns Inne. [], London: [] G[eorge] Eld for George Norton [], →OCLC; republished in Richard Herne Shepherd, The Comedies and Tragedies of George Chapman [] in Three Volumes, volume III, London: John Pearson [], 1873, →OCLC, page 114:
      Other Muſique, and voyces; and this ſecond Stance was ſung, directing their obſeruance to the King. [] This ended the Phœbades ſung the third Stance.

Derived terms[edit]



stance (third-person singular simple present stances, present participle stancing, simple past and past participle stanced)

  1. (transitive, Scotland) To place, to position, to station; (specifically) to put (cattle) into an enclosure or pen in preparation for sale.
    • 1776, “Sheriff-Muir”, in [David Herd], editor, Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc. [] In Two Volumes, 2nd edition, volume I, Edinburgh: Printed by John Wotherspoon, for James Dickson and Charles Elliott, →OCLC, pages 107–108:
      Rob Roy ſtood watch / On a hill for to catch / The booty for ought that I ſa', man, / For he ne'er advanced, / From the place he was ſtanc'd, / 'Till no more to do there at a' man, []


  1. ^ staunce, n.(2)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 30 September 2018.
  2. ^ stance, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1915; “stance”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ stance, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1915.

Further reading[edit]