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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English staunch, staunche ((adjective) in good condition or repair; solidly made, firm; watertight; of a person or wound: not bleeding; certain; intact; (adverb) firmly, soundly) [and other forms],[1] from Anglo-Norman estaunche, Old French estanche (firm; watertight) (modern French étanche (airtight; watertight)), a variant of estanc (a pond),[2] from estanchier (to stop the flow of a liquid (blood, water, etc.); to make (something) watertight; to quench (thirst)) (modern French étancher), possibly from one of the following:


staunch (comparative stauncher, superlative staunchest)

  1. Not permitting water or some other liquid to escape or penetrate; watertight.
    • c. 1606–1607, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene ii], page 346, column 2:
      Yet if I knevv, / VVhat Hoope ſhould hold vs ſtaunch from edge to edge / Ath'vvorld [of the world]: I vvould perſue it.
      A figurative use, likening hope to a ship.
    • 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], “A Great Storm Described, the Long-Boat Sent to Fetch Water, the Author Goes with It to Discover the Country. []”, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. [], volume I, London: [] Benj[amin] Motte, [], →OCLC, part II (A Voyage to Brobdingnag), page 153:
      Our Proviſions held out vvell, our Ship vvas ſtaunch, and our Crevv all in good Health; but vve lay in the utmoſt diſtreſs for VVater.
    1. (by extension) Impermeable to air or other gases; airtight.
      Synonym: hermetically sealed
      • 1669, Robert Boyle, “Experiment XLVII. About an Attempt Made to Measure the Force of the Spring of Included Air, and Examine a Conjecture about the Difference of Its Strength in Unequally Broad Mouth’d Vessels.”, in A Continuation of New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, Touching the Spring and Weight of the Air, and Their Effects. The I. Part. [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] Henry Hall, printer to the University, for Richard Davis, →OCLC, page 160:
        [T]vvas very difficult to procure a Bladder ſmall and fine enough for that litle Cylinder; and that one, vvhich at length vve procured, vvould not continue ſtanch for many Tryals, but vvould after a vvhile part vvith a litle Air in the vvell exhauſted Receiver, vvhen tvvas clog'd vvith the utmoſt VVeight it could ſuſtain: but vvhilſt it continued ſtanch vve made one fair Tryal vvith it, []
  2. Strongly built; also, in good or strong condition.
    • 1644, John Milton, Areopagitica; a Speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England, London: [s.n.], →OCLC, page 27:
      Hovv goodly, and hovv to be vviſht vvere ſuch an obedient unanimity as this, vvhat a fine conformity vvould it ſtarch us all into? doubtles a ſtanch and ſolid peece of frame-vvork, as any January could freeze together.
    • 1679 August 2 (Gregorian calendar), John Evelyn, “[Diary entry for 23 July 1679]”, in William Bray, editor, Memoirs, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, [], 2nd edition, volume I, London: Henry Colburn, []; and sold by John and Arthur Arch, [], published 1819, →OCLC, page 511:
      [T]he house a stanch good old building, and what was singular, some of the roomes floor'd dove-tail-wise without a nail, exactly close. One of the closetts is parquetted with plaine deale, set in diamond, exceeding stanch and pretty.
    • 1692, John Ray, “The Fourth Question Resolved, Whether Shall there Be Any Signs or Forerunners of the Dissolution of the World?”, in Miscellaneous Discourses Concerning the Dissolution and Changes of the World. [], London: [] Samuel Smith, [], →OCLC, page 178:
      [T]he VVorld continues ſtill as firm and ſtaunch as it vvas three thouſand years ago; and vvhy hereafter it ſhould founder and decay more than it hath done for ſo many Ages heretofore, vvhat reaſon can be given?
    • 1856 May 10 (date written), Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Scotland.—Glasgow. May 10th. [1856.]”, in Passages from the English Note-books of Nathaniel Hawthorne, volume II, Boston, Mass.: Fields, Osgood, & Co., published 1870, →OCLC, page 34:
      This part of the castle was burned last autumn; but it is now under repair, and the wall of the tower is still stanch and strong.
  3. (figurative)
    1. Staying true to one's aims or principles; firm, resolute, unswerving.
      Synonyms: constant, determined, persistent, steadfast, unwavering, unyielding
      Without our staunch front line the enemy would have split the regiment.
    2. Dependable, loyal, reliable, trustworthy.
      He’s been a staunch supporter of mine through every election.
      1. (chiefly hunting) Of a hunting dog: that can be depended on to pick up the scent of, or to mark, game.
        • 1575, Jacques du Fouilloux, “Certaine Observations and Subtleties to be Used by Huntsmen in Hunting an Hart at Force”, in George Gascoigne, transl., The Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting. [], London: [] Thomas Purfoot, published 1611, →OCLC, page 112:
          [T]he horſemen & huntſmen ſhould blemiſh at ſuch places as they ſee the Hart enter into a thicket or couert to the end that if the hounds fall to change, they may return to thoſe blemiſhes, and put their hounds to the right ſlot and view, vntill they haue rowzed or found him againe with their bloudhound, or with ſome other ſtanch old hound of the kennell, in the which they may aſſie themſelues. For old ſtaunch houndes which will not hunt change, when they ſee an Hart rowzed & before them, they neuer call on, nor once open: but if they be young raſh houndes, they will runne with full cry & ſo take change.
        • 1810, Walter Scott, “Canto I. The Chase.”, in The Lady of the Lake; a Poem, Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for John Ballantyne and Co.; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, and William Miller, →OCLC, stanza VII, page 10:
          For, scarce a spear's length from his haunch, / Vindictive toiled the blood-hounds staunch; []
        • 1835, [Washington Irving], “A Hunt for a Lost Comrade”, in A Tour on the Prairies (The Crayon Miscellany; no. 1), Philadelphia, Pa.: [Henry Charles] Carey, [Isaac] Lea, & Blanchard, →OCLC, page 237:
          Beatte especially, was as staunch as a veteran hound.
    3. (obsolete) Cautious, restrained.
      Synonym: guarded
      • a. 1678 (date written), Isaac Barrow, “The Ninth Sermon. 1 Thess[alonians] 4. 11.”, in Several Sermons against Evil-Speaking, London: [] Brabazon Aylmer, [], published 1678, →OCLC, page 105:
        It is good to be very ſtaunch and cautious of talking about other Men and their Concernments, in vvay of paſſing Characters on them, or deſcanting upon their Proceedings for vvant of other Diſcourse: This is the common refuge of Idleneſs, and the practice of fidling Goſſips, vvho becauſe they vvill do nothing themſelves, muſt be reflecting upon the doings of others; []
    4. stubborn, intransigent
      Synonyms: see Thesaurus:obstinate
      Antonyms: compromising, transigent
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English staunchen, staunche (to stop the flow of blood, diarrhoea, or other bodily fluids; to alleviate, ease; to appease, assuage, satisfy; to cure; to overcome; to put an end to; to repress, suppress; of a river or stream: to stop flowing; of waters, wind, or weather: to become calm, subside; to extinguish or put out (a fire)) [and other forms],[4] from Anglo-Norman estauncher, estaunchier, estanger, Old French estancher, estanchier (verb) [and other forms];[3] see further at etymology 1 and at stanch.


staunch (third-person singular simple present staunches, present participle staunching, simple past and past participle staunched)

  1. Alternative spelling of stanch
    • 1535 October 14 (Gregorian calendar), Myles Coverdale, transl., Biblia: The Byble, [] (Coverdale Bible), [Cologne or Marburg: Eucharius Cervicornus and J. Soter?], →OCLC, Ezechiel xxxj:[15], folio lxviij, recto, column 2:
      I will couer the depe vpon him, I will ſtaunch his floudes, and the greate waters ſhalbe reſtrayned.
    • 1782, William Cowper, “Retirement”, in Poems, London: [] J[oseph] Johnson, [], →OCLC, page 274:
      He that has not uſurp'd the name of man, / Does all, and deems too little, all he can, / T' aſſuage the throbbings of the feſter'd part, / And ſtaunch the bleedings of a broken heart; []
    • 1820, Walter Scott, chapter VII, in Ivanhoe; a Romance. [], volume III, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co. [], →OCLC, page 178:
      [T]he iron head of a square cross-bow bolt disengaged itself from the wound, the bleeding was staunched, the wound was closed, and the dying man was, within the quarter of an hour, walking upon the ramparts, []
Usage notes[edit]

Stanch is more commonly used as the spelling of the verb compared to staunch, especially in the United States; while staunch is more common as the spelling of the adjective, with stanch now regarded as archaic. Prescriptively, some readers may assume that reversals of these preferences are incorrect.

Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]



staunch (plural staunches)

  1. (obsolete) That which stanches or checks a flow.
    1. (specifically, archaic) A plant or substance which stops the flow of blood; a styptic.
  2. (obsolete) An act of stanching or stopping.
  3. (mining) Synonym of afterdamp (suffocating gases present in a coal mine after an explosion caused by firedamp)
Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

See stanch (etymology 4).


staunch (plural staunches)

  1. Alternative spelling of stanch (a floodgate by which water is accumulated, for floating a boat over a shallow part of a stream by its release; also, a dam or lock in a river)


  1. ^ staunch(e, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ staunch, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2022; “staunch1, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 stanch | staunch, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2022; “staunch2, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  4. ^ staunchen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  5. ^ Compare “stanch | staunch, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022.
  6. ^ staunche, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.