Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A nickel coin used in the Netherlands and worth 1/20 of a guilder.
  • n. Something of small value.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small Dutch coin worth one twentieth of a guilder.
  • n. Anything of small value.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A Dutch coin, and money of account, of the value of two cents, or about one penny sterling; hence, figuratively, anything of little worth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small coin formerly current in Holland and in the Dutch colonies: in Dutch called stuiver.
  • n. A copper coin formerly current in the Dutch colonies.
  • n. Hence Any very small coin, or coin of little value.
  • n. An inhabitant of the stews; a harlot.

Etymologies

Dutch stuiver, from Middle Dutch stuyver.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Dutch stuiver, cognate with Middle Low German stüver. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • [2] A stiver is a Dutch coin equal to 1/20 of a guilder.

    Letter from Robert Carter to John Gale, 1720 July 13

  • Six white beads of wampum to the stiver was the rate established by authority in 1673.] _26th, Tuesday.

    Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, 1679-1680

  • I could not prevail on them to accept one stiver, doit, or maravedi, for the trouble and expenses of my sick bed.

    A Legend of Montrose

  • “I was plundered of every stiver when they took me — it shall avail thee much.”

    Quentin Durward

  • Well, as he was a-going to depart this bachelor life, he did what every man in such suckmstances ought to do; he made his will, — that is, he made a dispasition of his property, and wrote letters to his creditors telling them of his lucky chance; and that after his marridge he would sutnly pay them every stiver.

    The Memoirs of Mr. Charles J. Yellowplush

  • ‘Well, you tell Holdaway that I’m aground, not a stiver — not a stiver.

    Lay Morals

  • He said he had not a stiver, but he was drunk enough.

    Lay Morals

  • Mr. Whip Vigil, on the other hand, declared on the part of Government that the bridge was wholly unnecessary; that if it were built it ought to be pulled down again; and that not a stiver could be given out of the public purse with such an object.

    The Three Clerks

  • 'Not a stiver, mon garçon - which means, my lad: get up, and we'll take a turn through the mill before the hands come in, and

    Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte

  • Doones indeed they were, about which you of course know best — took every stiver out of the carriage: wet or dry they took it.

    Lorna Doone

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Comments

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  • It leaves one in a stew! No reason to stew about it though!
    Wordie (wordnik) is a stew John created (started). What would it be without spice!

    February 23, 2011

  • *wonders whether John's sorry he asked*

    ;-)

    February 23, 2011

  • "3. A heated room used for hot air or vapour baths : hence, a hot bath. Obs. exc. Hist. or arch. . . .
    4. A brothel. (Developed from sense 3, on account of the frequent use of the public hot-air bath-houses for immoral purposes. Cf. bagnio.)
    a. In plural (chiefly collect.; sometimes, a quarter occupied by houses of ill-fame)."

    --from the Oxford English Dictionary definition for stews, p. 935 (specifically the Compact Edition which was "reproduced micrographically" in 1974 and came with its own magnifying glass)

    February 22, 2011

  • The OED has a bunch of meanings for it, including ponds, moats, artificial oyster-beds, and "A breeding place for pheasants," but I think what we're looking for is something about the heated rooms in steamy bath-houses (hot-air baths), and the unsavory things that happened there.

    February 22, 2011

  • "Stella!"

    February 22, 2011

  • I would guess it refers the hot, heavy, gritty, moist, and otherwise unsavory area of a city.

    February 22, 2011

  • This book implies that the stews are "brothel-houses," presumably somewhere (or in many places) in England--the book is titled The Church History of Britain.

    February 22, 2011

  • The slums?

    February 22, 2011

  • Anybody have any idea where or what "the stews" are?

    February 22, 2011

  • "4. An inhabitant of the stews; a harlot."

    --Century Dictionary

    February 22, 2011

  • ...not to speak of my three years' beef and board, for which I would not have to pay one stiver.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 16

    July 24, 2008

  • Thing of little or no value. (from Phrontistery)

    May 23, 2008