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in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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Meaning and Origin

What does the name Stay mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Stay

User Submitted Meanings

  • According to a user from Cambodia, the name Stay is of Unknown origin and means "Butterfly".
  • A submission from United Kingdom says the name Stay means "Come to stay" and is of Hebrew origin.
  • A user from Thailand says the name Stay is of English origin and means "Firm and in place, fits in, normal.".
Other origins: Norwegian

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
noun Stay
A large, strong rope, employed to support a mast, by being extended from the head of one mast down to some other, or to some part of the vessel. Those which lead forward are called fore-and-aft stays; those which lead to the vessel's side are called backstays. See Illust. of Ship.

Etymology: AS. stæg, akin to D., G., Icel., Sw., & Dan. stag; cf. OF. estai, F. étai, of Teutonic origin

verb Stay
  1. To stop from motion or falling; to prop; to fix firmly; to hold up; to support."Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side." [Ex. xvii. 12.]"Sallows and reeds . . . for vineyards useful found To stay thy vines." [Dryden.]
  2. To support from sinking; to sustain with strength; to satisfy in part or for the time."He has devoured a whole loaf of bread and butter, and it has not staid his stomach for a minute." [Sir W. Scott.]
  3. To bear up under; to endure; to support; to resist successfully."She will not stay the siege of loving terms, Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes." [Shak.]
  4. To hold from proceeding; to withhold; to restrain; to stop; to hold."Him backward overthrew and down him stayed With their rude hands and grisly grapplement." [Spenser.]"All that may stay their minds from thinking that true which they heartily wish were false." [Hooker.]
  5. To hinder; to delay; to detain; to keep back."Your ships are stayed at Venice." [Shak.]"This business staid me in London almost a week." [Evelyn.]"I was willing to stay my reader on an argument that appeared to me new." [Locke.]
  6. To remain for the purpose of; to wait for."I staydinner there." [Shak.]
  7. To cause to cease; to put an end to." Stay your strife." [Shak.]"For flattering planets seemed to say This child should ills of ages stay." [Emerson.]
  8. [Engin] To fasten or secure with stays; as, to stay a flat sheet in a steam boiler.
  9. [Naut] To tack, as a vessel, so that the other side of the vessel shall be presented to the wind.

Etymology: OF. estayer, F. étayer to prop, fr. OF. estai, F. étai, a prop, probably fr. OD. stade staeye, a prop, akin to E. stead; or cf. stay a rope to support a mast. Cf. Staid (a.) Stay (v. i.)

verb Stay
  1. To remain; to continue in a place; to abide fixed for a space of time; to stop; to stand still."She would command the hasty sun to stay." [Spenser.]" Stay, I command you; stay and hear me first." [Dryden.]"I stay a little longer, as one stays To cover up the embers that still burn." [Longfellow.]
  2. To continue in a state."The flames augment, and stay At their full height, then languish to decay." [Dryden.]
  3. To wait; to attend; to forbear to act."I 'll tell thee all my whole device When I am in my coach, which stays for us." [Shak.]"The father can not stay any longer for the fortune." [Locke.]
  4. To dwell; to tarry; to linger."I must stay a little on one action." [Dryden.]
  5. To rest; to depend; to rely; to stand; to insist."I stay here on my bond." [Shak.]"Ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon." [Isa. xxx. 12.]
  6. To come to an end; to cease; as, that day the storm stayed .(Archaic)"Here my commission stays." [Shak.]
  7. To hold out in a race or other contest; as, a horse stays well.(Colloq)
  8. [Naut] To change tack, as a ship.

Etymology: √163. See Stay to hold up, prop

noun Stay
  1. That which serves as a prop; a support."My only strength and stay." [Milton.]"Trees serve as so many stays for their vines." [Addison.]"Lord Liverpool is the single stay of this ministry." [Coleridge.]
  2. pl.A corset stiffened with whalebone or other material, worn by women, and rarely by men."How the strait stays the slender waist constrain." [Gay.]
  3. Continuance in a place; abode for a space of time; sojourn; as, you make a short stay in this city."Make haste, and leave thy business and thy care; No mortal interest can be worth thy stay." [Dryden.]"Embrace the hero and his stay implore." [Waller.]
  4. Cessation of motion or progression; stand; stop."Made of sphere metal, never to decay Until his revolution was at stay." [Milton.]"Affairs of state seemed rather to stand at a stay." [Hayward.]
  5. Hindrance; let; check.(Obs)"They were able to read good authors without any stay, if the book were not false." [Robynson (More's Utopia).]
  6. Restraint of passion; moderation; caution; steadiness; sobriety.(Obs)"Not grudging that thy lust hath bounds and stays." [Herbert.]"The wisdom, stay, and moderation of the king." [Bacon.]"With prudent stay he long deferred The rough contention." [Philips.]
  7. [Engin] Strictly, a part in tension to hold the parts together, or stiffen them.

Etymology: Cf. OF. estai, F. étai support, and E. stay a rope to support a mast

Other Dictionary Sources
  1. Continuing or remaining in a place or state ("they had a nice stay in Paris", "a lengthy hospital stay", and "a four-month stay in bankruptcy court")
  2. (nautical) brace consisting of a heavy rope or wire cable used as a support for a mast or spar
  3. A thin strip of metal or bone that is used to stiffen a garment (e.g. a corset)
  4. A judicial order forbidding some action until an event occurs or the order is lifted ("the Supreme Court has the power to stay an injunction pending an appeal to the whole Court")
  5. The state of inactivity following an interruption ("the momentary stay enabled him to escape the blow")
  6. Stay the same; remain in a certain state ("stay alone")
  7. Stop or halt ("Please stay the bloodshed!")
  8. Overcome or allay
  9. Fasten with stays
  10. Stay put (in a certain place) ("We are staying in Detroit; we are not moving to Cincinnati" and "Stay put in the corner here!")
  11. Remain behind ("I had to stay at home and watch the children")
  12. Stop a judicial process ("The judge stayed the execution order")
  13. Hang on during a trial of endurance
  14. Dwell ("You can stay with me while you are in town" and "stay a bit longer--the day is still young")
  15. Continue in a place, position, or situation ("After graduation, she stayed on in Cambridge as a student adviser" and "Stay with me, please")
  16. Stay behind ("The smell stayed in the room")

From Middle English steyen, staien, from Old French estayer, estaier (“to fix, prop up, support, stay”), from estaye, estaie (“a prop, stay”), from Middle Dutch staeye (“a prop, stay”), a contracted form of staede, stade ("a prop, stay, help, aid"; compare Middle Dutch staeyen, staeden (“to make firm, stay, support, hold still, stabilise”)), from Old Dutch *stad (“a site, place, location, standing”), from Proto-Germanic *stadiz (“a standing, place”), from Proto-Indo-European *stéh₂tis (“standing”). Influenced by Old English stæġ ("a stay, rope"; see below). Cognate with Old English stede, stæde (“a place, spot, locality, fixed position, station, site, standing, status, position of a moving body, stopping, standing still, stability, fixity, firmness, steadfastness”), Swedish stödja (“to prop, support, brace, hold up, bolster”), Icelandic stöðug (“continuous, stable”). More at stead, steady.

Sense of "remain, continue" may be due to later influence from Old French ester, esteir (“to stand, be, continue, remain”), from Latin stāre (“stand”), from the same Proto-Indo-European root above; however, derivation from this root is untenable based on linguistic and historical grounds.

An alternative etymology derives Old French estaye, estaie, from Old Frankish *staka (“stake, post”), from Proto-Germanic *stakô (“stake, bar, stick, pole”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)teg- (“rod, pole, stick”), making it cognate with Old English staca (“pin, stake”), Old English stician (“to stick, be placed, lie, remain fixed”). Cognate with Albanian shtagë (“a long stick, a pole”). More at stake, stick.

From Middle English *staye, from Old French estaye, estaie (“a prop, a stay”), from Middle Dutch staeye (“a prop, stay”), a contracted form of staede, stade ("a prop, stay, help, aid"; compare Middle Dutch staeyen, staeden (“to make firm, stay, support, hold still, stabilise”)), from Old Dutch *stad (“a site, place, location, standing”), from Proto-Germanic *stadiz (“a standing, place”), from Proto-Indo-European *stā- (“to stand”). See above.

  1. A prop; a support.
  2. (archaic) A fastening for a garment; a hook; a clasp; anything to hang another thing on.
  3. That which holds or restrains; obstacle; check; hindrance; restraint.
  4. A stop; a halt; a break or cessation of action, motion, or progress.
  5. (archaic) A standstill; a state of rest; entire cessation of motion or progress.
    stand at a
  6. A postponement, especially of an execution or other punishment.
    The governor granted a of execution.
  7. A fixed state; fixedness; stability; permanence.
  8. Continuance or a period of time spent in a place; abode for an indefinite time; sojourn.
    I hope you enjoyed your in Hawaii.
  9. (nautical) A station or fixed anchorage for vessels.
  10. Restraint of passion; prudence; moderation; caution; steadiness; sobriety.
  11. A piece of stiff material, such as plastic or whalebone, used to stiffen a piece of clothing.
    Where are the for my collar?
  12. (obsolete) Hindrance; let; check.

From Middle English *stay, from Old English stæġ (“stay, a rope supporting a mast”), from Proto-Germanic *stagą (“stay, rope”), from Proto-Indo-European *stek-, *stāk- (“stand, pole”), from Proto-Indo-European *stā- (“to stand”). Cognate with Dutch stag (“stay”), German Stag (“stay”), Swedish stag (“stay”), Icelandic stag (“stay”).

  1. (nautical) A strong rope supporting a mast, and leading from one masthead down to some other, or other part of the vessel.
  2. A guy, rope, or wire supporting or stabilizing a platform, such as a bridge, a pole, such as a tentpole, the mast of a derrick, or other structural element.
    The engineer insisted on using for the scaffolding.
  3. (chain-cable) The transverse piece in a link.

From Middle English *steȝe, from Old English *stǣġe, an apocopated variant of Old English stǣġel (“steep, abrupt”), from Proto-Germanic *staigilaz (“climbing, ascending, sloping, steep”), see sty.

    Notable Persons Named Stay

    Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is a fictional character.


    Notable Persons With the Last Name Stay

    Benedetto Stay was a clergy. Benedetto was born in 1714 in Ragusa (Dubrovnik), Republic of Ragusa. He died in 1801.


    Where is the name Stay popular?

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    Popularity of Stay as a last name

    The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Stay as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in Minnesota, New York, or California.

    Common first names for Stay

    Ethnicity Distribution

    Ethnicity Stay U.S.
      White 90.90% 64.26%
      African American 3.55% 11.96%
      Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 1.06% 4.85%
      American Indian and Alaska Native 1.30% 0.69%
      Two or More Ethnicities 1.77% 1.76%
      Hispanic or Latino 1.42% 16.26%

    Of Last Name Stay

    People with the last name Stay are most frequently White

    Entire United States

    Fun Facts about the name Stay

    • How Popular is the name Stay? As a last name Stay was the 28,263rd most popular name in 2010.
    • When was the first name Stay first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the name Stay is Saturday, July 21st, 1888.
    • How unique is the name Stay? From 1880 to 2017 less than 5 people per year have been born with the first name Stay. Hoorah! You are a unique individual.
    • Weird things about the name Stay: Your name in reverse order is Yats. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Ayts. How do you pronounce that?
    • How many people have the last name Stay? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 846 people with the last name Stay.
    • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Stay? Chances are, most people haven't met someone with Stay as their last name since less than 1 person in 345k people have that last name. If you know one, consider yourself lucky!

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    • Sources:
    • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
    • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
    • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
    • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
    • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.