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

  • adj. Having lost freshness, effervescence, or palatability: stale bread; stale air.
  • adj. Lacking originality or spontaneity: a stale joke.
  • adj. Impaired in efficacy, vigor, or spirit, as from inactivity or boredom.
  • adj. Law Having lost effectiveness or force through lack of exercise or action.
  • transitive v. To make or become stale.
  • intransitive v. To urinate. Used especially of horses and camels.
  • n. The urine of certain animals, especially horses and camels.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having lost its freshness from age; (of food) still edible, but hard or unpleasant from age.
  • adj. No longer new; no longer interesting; established; old; as, stale news, a stale joke, etc.
  • n. A bird used as a decoy to trap other birds.
  • n. Any trap or lure.
  • n. A low class of prostitute (originally used as a decoy by other criminals).
  • n. A person's position, especially in a battle-line.
  • n. An ambush.
  • n. A division of armed men posted in a specific place, either for an ambush or for other reasons.
  • n. a handle of a broom or rake
  • n. Urine, especially of horses or cattle.
  • v. To urinate (of livestock, especially horses)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Vapid or tasteless from age; having lost its life, spirit, and flavor, from being long kept.
  • adj. Not new; not freshly made.
  • adj. Having lost the life or graces of youth; worn out; decayed.
  • adj. Worn out by use or familiarity; having lost its novelty and power of pleasing; trite; common.
  • n. The stock or handle of anything.
  • n. That which is stale or worn out by long keeping, or by use.
  • n. A prostitute.
  • n. Urine, esp. that of beasts.
  • n. Something set, or offered to view, as an allurement to draw others to any place or purpose; a decoy; a stool pigeon.
  • n. A stalking-horse.
  • n. A stalemate.
  • n. A laughingstock; a dupe.
  • intransitive v. To make water; to discharge urine; -- said especially of horses and cattle.
  • transitive v. To make vapid or tasteless; to destroy the life, beauty, or use of; to wear out.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Old (and therefore strong): said of malt liquors, which in this condition were more in demand.
  • Old and lifeless; the worse for age or for keeping; partially spoiled.
  • Old and trite; lacking in novelty or freshness; hackneyed: as, stale news; a stale jest.
  • In athletics, overtrained; injured by overtraining: noting the person or his condition.
  • n. That which has become flat and tasteless, or spoiled by use or exposure, as stale beer.
  • n. A prostitute.
  • n. A stalemate.
  • To render stale, flat, or insipid; deprive of freshness, attraction, or interest; make common or cheap.
  • To make water; urinate: said of horses and cattle.
  • To be overtrained; be injured by the strain of long training, so that the response to stimulus, mental or physical, is impaired: said of horses and athletes, and also used figuratively.
  • n. Theft; stealing; pilfering.
  • n. Stealth; stealthy movement.
  • n. Concealment; ambush.
  • n. A trap, gin, or snare.
  • n. An allurement; a bait; a decoy; a stool-pigeon: as, a stale for a foist or pickpocket.
  • n. An object of deception, scorn, derision, merriment, ridicule, or the like; a dupe; a laughing-stock.
  • n. A stalk; stem.
  • n. The stem of an arrow.
  • n. A handle; especially, a long handle, as that of a rake, ladle, etc.
  • n. A round or rung of a ladder; a step.
  • n. Urine of horses and cattle.
  • n. An old preterit of steal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lacking originality or spontaneity; no longer new
  • v. urinate, of cattle and horses
  • adj. lacking freshness, palatability, or showing deterioration from age


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

Middle English, settled, clear (used of beer or wine), probably from Old French estale, slack, settled, clear, from estaler, to come to a standstill, halt, from estal, standing place, stand, of Germanic origin.
Middle English stalen, possibly of Low German origin; akin to Middle Low German stallen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Apparently from Anglo-Norman estale ("pigeon used to entice a hawk"), ultimately from Proto-Germanic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French estal (from French étal), from Frankish *stal, from Proto-Germanic *stallo-, earlier *staþlo-. Ultimately related to stand.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain.


  • You don't want to use the word stale but you look for some kind of spark, Laich said.

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  • That's an eon in the world of slang, enough time to render a term stale.

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  • During the presidential campaign, we know that Barack Obama promised to move away from what he called the stale and divisive politics of the past.

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  • He estimates that is the calculated total for every person in that state who bought what he calls a stale ticket.

    CNN Transcript Jul 3, 2008

  • Should this form of vitality cease with the tree another principle which we call stale life takes possession and constructs another tree which is just the reverse of the living tree, and builds a tree after its own power of formulation from the dead matter, to which it imparts a principle of stale life, which life produces mushrooms, frogstools and other peculiar forms of stale beings, from this form of growth.

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  • I'm a little embarrassed to say that I simply can't remember the environment variable that I need to set in order to remove what I call "stale" network adapters in Device Manager.

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  • As if a mere human could compete with clogged freeways and Sisyphean paper pushing (or its more up-to-date equivalent, paperless pushing) and burnt-coffee-laced afternoons counting the acoustic tiles in stale conference rooms, and the hours spent arguing over the wording of a memo that within minutes after its dissemination will be dragged into the now-two-dimensional circular file.

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  • What was old and getting stale is now reborn into something entirely different.

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  • To be senselessly tossed and retossed in stale mutilation

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  • The reader must not confound the olives of the text with the hard unripe berries (“little plums pickled in stale”) which appear at English tables, nor wonder that bread and olives are the beef-steak and potatoes of many Mediterranean peoples It is an excellent diet, the highly oleaginous fruit supplying the necessary carbon,

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night


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  • It also makes the Century Dictionary's second definition for sig seem redundant.

    May 18, 2011

  • Presumably the same as stile in the sense of hurdle.

    May 18, 2011

  • The definitions of this word involving urine give new meaning to stale bread, stale air.

    May 18, 2011

  • North of England provincial term for a hurdle. --Grose's A Provincial Glossary, 1787.

    May 18, 2011