From Middle English starche, sterche, from Old English *stierċe (“stiffness, rigidity, strength”), from Proto-West Germanic *starkī (“stiffness, rigidity, fortitude, strength”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *sterg- (“stiff, rigid”). Cognate with dialectal Dutch sterk (“strong”), Middle Low German sterke (“strength”), German Stärke (“strength", also "starch”), Swedish stärkelse (“starch”), Icelandic sterkja (“starch”). Related to English stark (“stiff, strong, vigorous, powerful”).
- (uncountable) A widely diffused vegetable substance, found especially in seeds, bulbs and tubers, as extracted (e.g. from potatoes, corn, rice, etc.) in the form of a white, glistening, granular or powdery substance, without taste or smell, and giving a very peculiar creaking sound when rubbed between the fingers. It is used as a food, in the production of commercial grape sugar, for stiffening linen in laundries, in making paste, etc.
- 1892, Ella Eaton Kellogg, “Foods”, in Science in the Kitchen: A Scientific Treatise on Food Substances and Their Dietetic Properties, Together with a Practical Explanation of the Principles of Healthful Cookery, and a Large Number of Original, Palatable, and Wholesome Recipes, Revised edition, Michigan: Health Publishing Company, page 25:
- The various elements found in food are the following: Starch, sugar, fats, albumen, mineral substances, indigestible substances.
- (nutrition, countable) Carbohydrates, as with grain and potato based foods.
- (uncountable) A stiff, formal manner; formality.
- 1712 March 1 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison, “TUESDAY, February 19, 1711–1712”, in The Spectator, number 305; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, […], volume IV, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC:
- this Professor is to give the society their stiffening, and infuse into their manners that beautiful political starch, which may qualify them for Levées, Conferences, Visits
- (uncountable) Fortitude.
- 2017, Dean Koontz, The Silent Corner, page 98:
- The thought of the gun in his back put some starch in him. He needed the handrail, and he limped step by step, but he ascended at his full height.
- (countable) Any of various starch-like substances used as a laundry stiffener
- To apply or treat with laundry starch, to create a hard, smooth surface.
- She starched her blouses.
starch (not comparable)
- Stiff; precise; rigid.
- 1713, John Killingbeck, Eighteen sermons on practical subjects:
- misrepresenting Sobriety as a Starch and Formal, and Vertue as a Laborious and Slavish thing
- “starch”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
- Umberto Patuzzi, ed., (2013) Ünsarne Börtar, Luserna: Comitato unitario delle linguistiche storiche germaniche in Italia / Einheitskomitee der historischen deutschen Sprachinseln in Italien