From Middle English staple, from Anglo-Norman estaple, Old French estaple (“market, (trading) post”), from Late Latin stapula, from Middle Dutch stapel (“pillar; foundation; market”), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *stapulaz (“post”), from Proto-Indo-European *stebʰ- (“post, stem”). Compare staff.
staple (plural staples)
- (now historical) A town containing merchants who have exclusive right, under royal authority, to purchase or produce certain goods for export; also, the body of such merchants seen as a group.
- The customs of Alexandria were very great, it having been the staple of the Indian trade.
- Sir Walter Scott
- For the increase of trade and the encouragement of the worthy burgesses of Woodstock, her majesty was minded to erect the town into a staple for wool.
- 2011, Thomas Penn, Winter King, Penguin 2012, p. 73:
- Calais was one of the ‘principal treasures’ of the crown, of both strategic and economic importance. It was home to the staple, the crown-controlled marketplace for England's lucrative textile trade, whose substantial customs and tax revenues flooded into Henry's coffers.
- (by extension) Place of supply; source.
- The principal commodity produced in a town or region.
- We should now say, Cotton is the great staple, that is, the established merchandize, of Manchester.
- 1929, M. Barnard Eldershaw, A House Is Built, Chapter VIII, Section ii:
- The pastoral industry, which had weathered the severe depression of the early forties by recourse to boiling down the sheep for their tallow, and was now firmly re-established as the staple industry of the colony, was threatened once more with eclipse.
- A basic or essential supply.
- Rice is a staple in the diet of many cultures.
- A recurring topic or character.
- Short fiber, as of cotton, sheep’s wool, or the like, which can be spun into yarn or thread.
- Unmanufactured material; raw material.
staple (not comparable)
- Relating to, or being market of staple for, commodities.
- a staple town
- Established in commerce; occupying the markets; settled.
- a staple trade
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)
- Fit to be sold; marketable.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Swift to this entry?)
- Regularly produced or manufactured in large quantities; belonging to wholesale traffic; principal; chief.
- wool, the great staple commodity of England
Probably from Middle English stapel (“staple, pillar, post”), from Old English stapol (“post, pillar”), from Proto-Germanic *stapulaz, from Proto-Indo-European *stebʰ- (“post, stem”). See also Old English steppan (“to step”) and Old French estaple (“post”). Consider also stapes (“stirrup”), from Latin.
staple (plural staples)
- A wire fastener used to secure stacks of paper by penetrating all the sheets and curling around.
- A wire fastener used to secure something else by penetrating and curling.
- Can you believe they use staples to hold cars together these days?
- A U-shaped metal fastener, used to attach fence wire or other material to posts or structures.
- The rancher used staples to attach the barbed wire to the fence-posts.
- 1855, Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom Chapter 3
- Esther's wrists were firmly tied, and the twisted rope was fastened to a strong staple in a heavy wooden joist above, near the fire-place. Here she stood, on a bench, her arms tightly drawn over her breast. Her back and shoulders were bare to the waist.
- One of a set of U-shaped metal rods hammered into a structure, such as a piling or wharf, which serve as a ladder.
- Fortunately, there were staples in the quay wall, and she was able to climb out of the water.
- (mining) A shaft, smaller and shorter than the principal one, joining different levels.
- A small pit.
- A district granted to an abbey.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Camden to this entry?)
- (obsolete) A post; prop; support