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in the U.S.
since 1880
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Meaning and Origin

What does the name Stem mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Stem

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
To gleam.
A gleam of light; flame.
noun Stem
  1. The principal body of a tree, shrub, or plant, of any kind; the main stock; the part which supports the branches or the head or top."After they are shot up thirty feet in length, they spread a very large top, having no bough nor twig in the trunk or the stem." [Sir W. Raleigh.]"The lowering spring, with lavish rain, Beats down the slender stem and breaded grain." [Dryden.]
  2. A little branch which connects a fruit, flower, or leaf with a main branch; a peduncle, pedicel, or petiole; as, the stem of an apple or a cherry.
  3. The stock of a family; a race or generation of progenitors."All that are of noble stem." [Milton.]"While I do pray, learn here thy stem And true descent." [Herbert.]
  4. A branch of a family."This is a stem Of that victorious stock." [Shak.]
  5. [Naut] A curved piece of timber to which the two sides of a ship are united at the fore end. The lower end of it is scarfed to the keel, and the bowsprit rests upon its upper end. Hence, the forward part of a vessel; the bow.
  6. Fig.: An advanced or leading position; the lookout."Wolsey sat at the stem more than twenty years." [Fuller.]
  7. Anything resembling a stem or stalk; as, the stem of a tobacco pipe; the stem of a watch case, or that part to which the ring, by which it is suspended, is attached.
  8. [Bot] That part of a plant which bears leaves, or rudiments of leaves, whether rising above ground or wholly subterranean.
  9. [Zoöl]
    1. The entire central axis of a feather.
    2. The basal portion of the body of one of the Pennatulacea, or of a gorgonian.
  10. [Mus] The short perpendicular line added to the body of a note; the tail of a crotchet, quaver, semiquaver, etc.
  11. [Gram] The part of an inflected word which remains unchanged (except by euphonic variations) throughout a given inflection; theme; base.

Etymology: AS. stemn stefn stæfn; akin to OS. stamn the stem of a ship, D. stam stem, steven stem of a ship, G. stamm stem, steven stem of a ship, Icel. stafn stamn, stem of a ship, stofn stomn, stem, Sw. stam a tree trunk, Dan. stamme. Cf. Staff Stand

verb Stem
  1. To remove the stem or stems from; as, to stem cherries; to remove the stem and its appendages (ribs and veins) from; as, to stem tobacco leaves.
  2. To ram, as clay, into a blasting hole.
verb Stem
To oppose or cut with, or as with, the stem of a vessel; to resist, or make progress against; to stop or check the flow of, as a current.

Etymology: Either from stem, n., or akin to stammer; cf. G. stemmen to press against

verb Stem
To move forward against an obstacle, as a vessel against a current.
Other Dictionary Sources
  1. A turn made in skiing; the back of one ski is forced outward and the other ski is brought parallel to it
  2. Front part of a vessel or aircraft
  3. Cylinder forming a long narrow part of something
  4. The tube of a tobacco pipe
  5. (linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed ("thematic vowels are part of the stem")
  6. A slender or elongated structure that supports a plant or fungus or a plant part or plant organ
  7. Remove the stem from ("for automatic natural language processing, the words must be stemmed")
  8. Stop the flow of a liquid ("stem the tide")
  9. Grow out of, have roots in, originate in ("The increase in the national debt stems from the last war")
  10. Cause to point inward ("stem your skis")

From Old English stemn, stefn (“stem, trunk (of a tree)”), from Proto-Germanic *stamniz.

  1. The stock of a family; a race or generation of progenitors.
  2. A branch of a family.
  3. An advanced or leading position; the lookout.
  4. (botany) The above-ground stalk (technically axis) of a vascular plant, and certain anatomically similar, below-ground organs such as rhizomes, bulbs, tubers, and corms.
  5. A slender supporting member of an individual part of a plant such as a flower or a leaf; also, by analogy, the shaft of a feather.
    the of an apple or a cherry
  6. A narrow part on certain man-made objects, such as a wine glass, a tobacco pipe, a spoon.
  7. (linguistics) The main part of an uninflected word to which affixes may be added to form inflections of the word. A stem often has a more fundamental root. Systematic conjugations and declensions derive from their stems.
  8. (slang) A person's leg.
  9. (typography) A vertical stroke of a letter.
  10. (music) A vertical stroke marking the length of a note in written music.
  11. (nautical) The vertical or nearly vertical forward extension of the keel, to which the forward ends of the planks or strakes are attached.
  12. Component on a bicycle that connects the handlebars to the bicycle fork
  13. (anatomy) A part of an anatomic structure considered without its possible branches or ramifications.
  14. (slang) A crack pipe.

From Old Norse stemma (“to stop, stem, dam”) (whence Danish stemme/stæmme (“to stem, dam up”)), from Proto-Germanic *stammijaną. Cognate with German stemmen, Middle Dutch stemmen, stempen. Compare stammer.

Acronym of science, technology, engineering, (and) mathematics.

  1. Alternative form of STEM

    stem was also found in the following language(s): Afrikaans, Dutch, Latin, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, and Tok Pisin

    Notable Persons Named Stem

    Stem was born in 1917. He died in 2004.


    Notable Persons With the Last Name Stem

    Jr. Thaddeus Stem was a poet, columnist, author, essayist, and list of essayists. Jr. was born on January 24th, 1916 in Oxford. Jr. is also known as Stem and Thad. He breathed his last breath on June 1st, 1980.


    Fred Stem was a baseball player. Fred was born on September 22nd, 1885 in Oxford, North Carolina. He breathed his last breath on September 5th, 1964.


    Where is the name Stem popular?

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    Popularity of Stem as a last name

    The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Stem as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, or Maryland.

    Ethnicity Distribution

    Ethnicity Stem U.S.
      White 93.69% 64.26%
      African American 3.00% 11.96%
      Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 0.84% 4.85%
      American Indian and Alaska Native 0.48% 0.69%
      Two or More Ethnicities 0.84% 1.76%
      Hispanic or Latino 1.14% 16.26%

    Of Last Name Stem

    People with the last name Stem are most frequently White

    Entire United States

    Fun Facts about the name Stem

    • How Popular is the name Stem? As a last name Stem was the 17,056th most popular name in 2010.
    • How unique is the name Stem? Out of 5,933,561 records in the U.S. Social Security Administration public data, the first name Stem was not present. It is possible the name you are searching has less than five occurrences per year.
    • Weird things about the name Stem: Your name in reverse order is Mets. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Etms. How do you pronounce that?
    • How many people have the last name Stem? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 1,665 people with the last name Stem.
    • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Stem? Chances are, most people haven't met someone with Stem as their last name since less than 1 person in 179k people have that last name. If you know one, consider yourself lucky!

    What Stems Have Visited This Page?

    Name poster for Stem

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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.