Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From stilt +‎ -ed.[1]



stilted (comparative more stilted, superlative most stilted)

  1. Making use of or possessing a stilt or stilts, or things resembling stilts; raised on stilts.
    Antonym: unstilted
    • 1741, [Edward Young], “Night the Sixth. The Infidel Reclaim’d. In Two Parts. Containing, the Nature, Proof, and Importance of Immortality. Part the First. []”, in The Complaint: Or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality, London: [] R[obert] Dodsley [], OCLC 1102704913, page 19:
      And laugh at this fantaſtic Mummery, / This antic Prelude of groteſque Events, / Where Dwarfs are often ſtilted, and betray / A Littleneſs of ſoul by Worlds o'er-run, / And Nations laid in blood.
    • 1806, “ORKNEY ISLANDS”, in Gazetteer of Scotland; Containing a Particular Description of the Counties, Parishes, Islands, Cities, Towns, Villages, Lakes, Rivers, Mountains, Vallies, &c. in that Kingdom: [], 2nd corrected and enlarged edition, Edinburgh: Printed by J. Stark, for Archibald Constable and Company; London: John Murray, [], OCLC 960061402:
      The state of husbandry is very far behind. The plough generally used is the single stilted one. In using this kind of plough, the ploughman bends towards the soil, and well merits the title of curvus arator, bestowed by Virgil on the Italian ploughman. [...] The two-stilted plough is beginning to be used; but the general opinion is against it.
      Stilt here means “the handle of a plough”.
    • 1812, Noah Webster, Jun., “The Grallic or Stilted Kind, with Cloven Feet”, in History of Animals; Designed for the Instruction and Amusement of Persons of both Sexes, New Haven, Conn.: Published and sold by Howe & Deforest, and Walter & Steele; Walter & Steele, printers, OCLC 960098935, paragraph 315, page 169:
      The crane and fowls of a like kind, seem to hold a middle place between land and water fowls, as they have separate toes like land fowls, but the bills and legs of the aquatic orders. [...] From the length of their legs they are called grallic, or stilted.
    • 1822, [Walter Scott], chapter XII, in The Pirate. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., OCLC 779274973, pages 272–273:
      As for her brother, they being now arrived where the rude and antique instruments of Zetland agriculture lay scattered in the usual confusion of a Scottish barn-yard, his thoughts were at once engrossed in the deficiencies of the one-stilted plough—of the twiscar, with which they dig peats—of the sledges, on which they transport commodities—of all and every thing, in short, in which the usages of the islands differed from that of the main land of Scotland.
      Stilt here means “the handle of a plough”.
    • 1830, [James Rennie], “Peculiar Locomotions”, in Insect Transformations (The Library of Entertaining Knowledge), London: Charles Knight, []; Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green, [], OCLC 82367409, pages 379–380:
      [W]e have still more striking instances in the large clouded-wing crane fly (Tipula gigantea, Meigen), popularly termed father longlegs, or jenny-spinner, their stilted legs enabling these insects to overtop the grass as they walk in the meadows, in the same way as our imaginary giraffe would overtop the trees in a forest.
    • 1832, James Montgomery, compiler, chapter VI, in Journal of Voyages and Travels by the Rev. Daniel Tyerman and George Bennet, Esq. Deputed from the London Missionary Society, to Visit Their Various Stations in the South Sea Islands, China, India, &c. between the Years 1821 and 1829. Compiled from Original Documents, [...] In Three Volumes. [...] From the First London Edition, Revised by an American Editor (Library of Religious Knowledge; I), volume I, Boston, Mass.: Published by Crocker and Brewster, []; New York, N.Y.: Jonathan Leavitt, [], OCLC 950909687, page 99:
      We were much more annoyed by our enemies within doors—the fleas, which, in spite of our stilted bedsteads, obtruded upon us, and were so ardent and active that sleep was hopeless in such society.
    • 1879–1880, James Ward, “Some Notes on the Physiology of the Nervous System of the Freshwater Crayfish (Astacus fluviatilis)”, in Michael Foster [et al.], editors, The Journal of Physiology, volume II, London; Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Macmillan and Co. [], ISSN 0022-3751, OCLC 9559311, pages 220–221:
      [W]hether locomotion was possible or not, the animal remained a good half-minute at rest in this stilted attitude without venturing a step. [...] When put on their feet in the water (instead of out of the water on a table) these crayfish had not such a strikingly stilted attitude, and did not as a rule attempt to walk, but began either feeding or preening movements, or falling over a little to one side set up the rhythmic swing instead.
    • 1942–1947, Robinson Jeffers, “The Double Axe”, in Tim Hunt, editor, The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, volume III (1939–1962), Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, published 1991, →ISBN, part II (The Double Axe 1942–1947), section I (The Love and the Hate), pages 214–215:
      [H]alf dazzled, a man, a soldier / Standing beside the stilted water tank, the Spanish girl / Peeking at him from the doorway.
    • 2014 January, Philip Briggs, “Axim and the Far Southwest”, in Ghana (Bradt Travel Guides), 6th edition, Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire: Bradt Travel Guides; Guildford, Conn.: The Globe Pequot Press, →ISBN, part 2 (Accra and Surrounds), page 257:
      Beyin is also a wonderful beach retreat in its own right, as well as being the normal base from which to visit the unique stilted village of Nzulezo.
  2. (figuratively) Elevated or raised in a contrived or unnatural way; stiff and artificially formal or pompous; also, depending on redundant, unnecessary elements.
    Antonyms: natural, unstilted
    He gave a stilted bow and left.
    • 1814 April, “Art. VI. The World before the Flood, a Poem, in Ten Cantos; with Other Occasional Pieces; by James Montgomery, [] 8vo. pp. 304. London; Longman and Co. 1813. [book review]”, in [William Gifford], editor, The Quarterly Review, volume XI, number XXI, 5th edition, London: John Murray, [], OCLC 1009026207, page 78:
      Untutored intellects are pleased with its frothy sentiment and its florid language, just as young and uneducated eyes are delighted with the gaudy hues of coloured prints in aquatinta. But though the tinsel of this stilted prose greatly contributed to [Salomon] Gessner's success in this and in every other country where his work has been naturalized, the story was not less essentially in its favour.
    • 1817, William O’Regan, Memoirs of the Legal, Literary, and Political Life of the Late the Right Honourable John Philpot Curran, once Master of the Rolls in Ireland: [], London: Printed for James Harper, []; Dublin: Richard Milliken, [], OCLC 1693368, page 25:
      Tired of this popinjay's stupid vanity and stilted affectation, and having a cheerless and dreary prospect before him, he reflected that every thing is worth something.
    • 1850, Herman Melville, “Some of the Ceremonies in a Man-of-War Unnecessary and Injurious”, in White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, publishers; London: Richard Bentley, published 1855, OCLC 41502660, page 197:
      The general usages of the American Navy are founded upon the usages that prevailed in the Navy of monarchical England more than a century ago; nor have they been materially altered since. [...] [T]here still lingers in American men-of-war all the stilted etiquette and childish parade of the old-fashioned Spanish court of Madrid.
    • 1923, Compton Mackenzie, “The First Sermon”, in The Parson’s Progress, London; New York, N.Y.: Cassell and Company, OCLC 2004982, page 23:
      The stilted sentences of his written sermon seemed no longer worth the agony of descending that abyss of surge to rescue. He felt grateful to those flickering shapes of human beings below, and he was filled with a desire to talk to them simply for just as long as he felt they were listening to him.
    • 1981, Bruce Wilson, “The Loyalist War out of Canada”, in As She Began: An Illustrated Introduction to Loyalist Ontario, Toronto, Ont.: Dundurn Press, →ISBN, page 25:
      The course of the actual warfare is seen as a confrontation between vigorous frontier pragmatism and stilted European tactics – canny American marksmen with their squirrel guns, hiding among the trees and picking off British regulars as the redcoats marched stiffly past in their serried ranks, their drums beating and their flags flying.
    • 2000, Arlyn J. Roffman, Meeting the Challenge of Learning Disabilities in Adulthood, Baltimore, Md.: P. H. Brookes Pub. Co., →ISBN, page 258:
      Rather than observing how others handled this issue, she decided it was easier to make a blanket policy of simply referring to all her colleagues by their surnames; this proved to be a stilted solution, however, as the majority of personnel commonly referred to one another by their first names.
    • 2015, Brian Grazer; Charles Fishman, “Brian Grazer’s Curiosity Conversations: A Sampler”, in A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 227:
      As soon as she sat down, I made a decision in my mind: I was not going to let our conversation conform to the stilted style that protocol would dictate. I decided to be funny, to be jokey. She connected immediately—she joked right back.
  3. (architecture) Of a building or architectural feature such as an arch or vault: supported by stilts (supporting pillars or posts); also (generally) having the main part raised above the usual level by some structure.
    Antonym: unstilted
    • 1845, Matthew Holbeche Bloxam, “Of the Anglo-Norman Style”, in The Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture. With an Explanation of Technical Terms, and a Centenary of Ancient Terms, 7th edition, London: David Bogue, [], OCLC 150486201, page 124:
      In Winchester Cathedral and Romsey Abbey Church, we have examples of what is called the stilted or horse-shoe arch, which is where the curvature of the arch does not spring immediately from the capitals or imposts of the piers, but the extreme points of the semicircle are continued straight down below the spring of the curve before they rest on the imposts, thus giving the idea of an arch stilted or raised, and somewhat approximating in form that of a horse-shoe.
    • 1920, G[eorg Gottlob] Ungewitter; K. Mohrmann, “Vaults”, in N[athan] Clifford Ricker, transl., Manual of Gothic Construction [...] Rewritten by K. Mohrmann [...] Leipzig 1890, 3rd edition, Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois, OCLC 21664756, page 84:
      The stilted arch was a good and much used expedient in ancient and modern times.
    • 2003, Mehrdad Shokoohy, “Kayalpatnam, the Renowned Muslim Port of Qā’il”, in Muslim Architecture of South India: The Sultanate of Ma’bar and the Traditions of Maritime Settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa), London; New York, N.Y.: RoutledgeCurzon, →ISBN, part 1 (The Coromandel Coast (Tamil Nadu)), page 129, column 2:
      The tombs have similar tombstones, each fashioned out of a rectangular block topped with another block in the form of a half drum, and with stilted semi-circular slabs for the head and foot stones.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. simple past tense and past participle of stilt


  1. ^ stilted, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1917; “stilted, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.