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See also: Stew



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English stewe, stue, from Anglo-Norman estouve, Old French estuve (bath, bathhouse) (modern French étuve), from Medieval Latin stupha, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *extufāre, from ex- + Ancient Greek τῦφος (tûphos, smoke, steam), from τύφω (túphō, to smoke). See also Italian stufare, Portuguese estufar. Compare also Old English stuf-bæþ (a hot-air bath, vapour bath); see stove.


stew (usually uncountable, plural stews)

  1. (obsolete) A cooking-dish used for boiling; a cauldron. [14th–17th c.]
  2. (now historical) A heated bath-room or steam-room; also, a hot bath. [from 14th c.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “primum”, in Le Morte Darthur, book XI:
      And when he came to the chamber there as this lady was the dores of yron vnlocked and vnbolted / And so syr launcelot wente in to the chambre that was as hote as ony stewe / And there syr launcelot toke the fayrest lady by the hand / that euer he sawe / and she was naked as a nedel
      And when he came to the chamber thereas this lady was, the doors of iron unlocked and unbolted. And so Sir Launcelot went into the chamber that was as hot as any stew. And there Sir Launcelot took the fairest lady by the hand that ever he saw, and she was naked as a needle
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
  3. (archaic) A brothel. [from 14th c.]
    • 1643, John Milton, Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce:
      [...] and the agrieved person shall doe more manly, to be extraordinary and singular in claiming the due right whereof he is frustrated, then to piece up his lost contentment by visiting the Stews, or stepping to his neighbours bed, which is the common shift in this mis-fortune, or els by suffering his usefull life to wast away and be lost under a secret affliction of an unconscionable size to humane strength.
    • 1681, John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel:
      And rak'd, for converts, even the court and stews.
    • 1835, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Sir James Mackintosh:
      Because he was chaste, the precinct of his temple is filled with licensed stews.
    • 1977, Gãmini Salgãdo, The Elizabethan Underworld, Folio Society, published 2006, page 37:
      Although whores were permitted to sit at the door of the stew, they could not solicit in any way nor ‘chide or throw stones’ at passers-by.
  4. (obsolete) A prostitute.
    • 1650, Anthony Weldon, The Court and Character of King James I:
      But it was so plotted betwixt the Lady, her Husband, and Bristol, that instead of that beauty, he had a notorious Stew sent him, and surely his carriage there was so lascivious...
  5. (uncountable, countable) A dish cooked by stewing. [from 18th c.]
    • 1870, Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Wordsworth Classics, published 1998, page 367:
      I noticed then that there was nothing to drink on the table but brandy, and nothing to eat but salted herrings, and a hot, sickly, highly peppered stew.
  6. (Sussex) A pool in which fish are kept in preparation for eating.
    Synonym: stewpond
  7. (US, regional) An artificial bed of oysters.
  8. (slang) A state of agitated excitement, worry, and/or confusion.
    to be in a stew
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Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English stewen, stuwen, from the noun above; and also from Middle English stiven, styven (to bathe, cook, stew).


stew (third-person singular simple present stews, present participle stewing, simple past and past participle stewed)

  1. (transitive or intransitive or ergative) To cook (food) by slowly boiling or simmering.
    I'm going to stew some meat for the casserole.
    The meat is stewing nicely.
  2. (transitive) To brew (tea) for too long, so that the flavour becomes too strong.
  3. (intransitive, figuratively) To suffer under uncomfortably hot conditions.
  4. (intransitive, figuratively) To be in a state of elevated anxiety or anger.

Etymology 3[edit]

Abbreviation of steward or stewardess.


stew (plural stews)

  1. (informal) A steward or stewardess on an airplane or boat.
    • 1975 November 3, Mordecai Richler, "The Perils of Maureen", New York, volume 8, number 44, page 8 [1]:
      And then, working as a stew for American Airlines, Mo met another older man [] .
    • 1991, Tom Clancy, The Sum of All Fears, 1992 edition, →ISBN, page 480 [2]:
      " [] We want to know what he's going to be saying on his airplane."
      "I don't have the legs to dress up as a stew, doc. Besides, I never learned to do the tea ceremony, either."
    • 1992 January, Skip Hollandsworth, "Doing the Hustle", Texas Monthly, ISSN 0148-7736, volume 20, issue 1, page 52 [3]:
      Dallas was also becoming known as a "stew zoo" because so many flight attendants were relocating there to work for Southwest, Braniff, and American Airlines.