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Tied herringbone stitch.

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English stiche, from Old English stiċe (a prick, puncture, stab, thrust with a pointed implement, pricking sensation, stitch, pain in the side, sting), from Proto-West Germanic *stiki, from Proto-Germanic *stikiz (prick, piercing, stitch), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)teyg- (to stab, pierce).

Cognate with Dutch steek (prick, stitch), German Stich (a prick, piercing, stitch), Old English stician (to stick, stab, pierce, prick). More at stick.


stitch (plural stitches)

  1. A single pass of a needle in sewing; the loop or turn of the thread thus made.
  2. An arrangement of stitches in sewing, or method of stitching in some particular way or style.
    cross stitch
    herringbone stitch
  3. (countable and uncountable) An intense stabbing pain under the lower edge of the ribcage, brought on by exercise.
    I've got a stitch. I'm going to have to stop and rest.
    After about fifteen minutes I got terrible stitch.
  4. A local sharp pain (anywhere); an acute pain, like the piercing of a needle.
    a stitch in the side
    • 1724, [Gilbert] Burnet, “Book III. Of the Rest of King Charles II’s Reign, from the Year 1673 to the Year 1685, in which He Died.”, in [Gilbert Burnet Jr.], editor, Bishop Burnet’s History of His Own Time. [], volume I, London: [] Thomas Ward [], OCLC 863504080, page 588:
      He was the next day taken with an oppreſſion, and as it ſeemed with a cold and with ſtitches, which was indeed a pluriſy.
    • 1848, Gottlieb Heinrich Georg Jahr, New Manual; Or, Symptomen-codex, page 186 (1846, Samuel Hahnemann, Materia Medica Pura, page 73):
      Violent continuous stitch in the region of the heart, the stitches multiplied when arresting the breathing. [] Feeling of heaviness in the muscles of the neck; he is obliged to bend his neck backwards. Cramp-like pain in right muscles of the neck, terminating in a stitch; the pain went off after motion and returned afterwards. [] Dull stitches in the region of the haunch-bones; pressure on the parts causes a simple pain. [] Drawing stitch in the right thigh, not perceptible when standing or ascending an elevation.
    • 1878, Timothy Field Allen, The Encyclopedia of pure materia medica v. 8, 1878, page 291:
      A sharp stitch in the left side of the head, on sitting down [] A sharp stitch in the upper part of the right side of the head, []
  5. A single turn of the thread round a needle in knitting; a link, or loop, of yarn
    drop a stitch
    take up a stitch
  6. An arrangement of stitches in knitting, or method of knitting in some particular way or style.
  7. A space of work taken up, or gone over, in a single pass of the needle.
  8. A fastening, as of thread or wire, through the back of a book to connect the pages.
  9. (by extension) Any space passed over; distance.
  10. (obsolete) A contortion, or twist.
  11. (colloquial) Any least part of a fabric or clothing.
    to wet every stitch of clothes
    She didn’t have a stitch on.
    • 1828, Thomas Keightley, Fairy Mythology, volume II, page 237:
      "Why, it's you that are stripping me," replied the Ogress, "and you have not left a stitch on me." "Where the devil is the quilt?" says the Ogre[.]
    • 1983, Johnny Marr, Morrissey (lyrics), “This Charming Man”, performed by The Smiths:
      I would go out tonight / But I haven't got a stitch to wear
  12. (obsolete) A furrow.
    • 1750, William Ellis, “Of Plowings preparatory for Sofing Lent Crops of Grain, &c. in Chilturn Grounds”, in The Modern Husbandman - Volume 4, page 42:
      Now plow down your Weat-stitches, by running the Two-wheel Fallow-Plough three or four times through each Stitch, which will almost level the Ground;
    • 1757, Thomas Hale, “Of Tillage”, in A compleat body of husbandry, page 241:
      About DUNSTABLE they plow much in Stitches : and in Essex some very good Farmers practise this Method with very great Success; making five Stitches when they come to sow, which five make a Perch, so that between every two Stitches there is a Thorough a Foot wide.
    • 1875, George Chapman, ‎Algernon Charles Swinburne, The Works of George Chapman: Poems and Minor Translations, page 224:
      [] for your oxen choose Two males of nine years old, for then their use Is most available, since their strengths are then Not of the weakest, and the youthful mean Sticks in their nerves still; nor will these contend With skittish tricks, when they their stitch should end, To break their plough, and leave their work undone.
  13. The space between two double furrows.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English sticchen, stichen, from Old English *stiċċan, stiċċian, from Proto-Germanic *stikjaną (to stab, stick, prick), influenced by the noun (see above).


stitch (third-person singular simple present stitches, present participle stitching, simple past and past participle stitched)

  1. To form stitches in; especially, to sew in such a manner as to show on the surface a continuous line of stitches.
    to stitch a shirt bosom.
  2. To sew, or unite or attach by stitches.
    to stitch printed sheets in making a book or a pamphlet.
    • 2011 November 10, Jeremy Wilson, “England Under 21 5 Iceland Under 21 0: match report”, in Telegraph[1]:
      With such focus from within the footballing community this week on Remembrance Sunday, there was something appropriate about Colchester being the venue for last night’s game. Troops from the garrison town formed a guard of honour for both sets of players, who emerged for the national anthem with poppies proudly stitched into their tracksuit jackets.
  3. (intransitive) To practice/practise stitching or needlework.
  4. (agriculture) To form land into ridges.
  5. To weld together through a series of connecting or overlapping spot welds.
    • 2009, Jeffery Zurschmeide, Automotive Welding: A Practical Guide, →ISBN, page 44:
      You can prevent warping and get a very strong weld by stitching your pieces together.
    • 2014, James E. Duffy, Auto Body Repair Technology, →ISBN, page 239:
      For example, the butt joint can be welded with the continuous technique or the stitch technique.
    • 2017, Chellappa Chandrasekaran, Anticorrosive Rubber Lining: A Practical Guide for Plastics Engineers, →ISBN:
      Apply cement and stitch as necessary. A hot knife can be used to seal down loose seams.
  6. (computing, graphics) To combine two or more photographs of the same scene into a single image.
    I can use this software to stitch together a panorama.
  7. (more generally) To include, combine, or unite into a single whole.
    • 2011, Steve Nolan, Film, Lacan and the Subject of Religion, →ISBN:
      Whereas liturgically, in the sacramental narrative of the Cross, worshippers are stitched into a salvation story, cinema spectators are stitched into a narrative in which the ordinary guy overcomes the Other in an extraordinary situation.
    • 2013, Peyton McCoy, Walk into Your Season: The Art of Cultural Work, →ISBN, page viii:
      However, it is the depth and breadth of your scholarship, your incisive and decisive writing, your numerous books exemplifying this masterful craftsmanship (I stopped counting after nineteen), your wit, and your relentless resolve to listen and get it right that are now stitched into my memories.
    • 2014, Susan Charnley, Thomas E. Sheridan, & Gary P. Nabhan, Stitching the West Back Together: Conservation of Working Landscapes, →ISBN, page xvi:
      Effective landscape-scale conservation thus calls for stitching the management of public, tribal, and private lands together using collaborative processes to achieve mutual social and ecological objectives.
Derived terms[edit]


  • stitch in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911
  • stitch at OneLook Dictionary Search

Further reading[edit]