from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The main ascending part of a plant; a stalk or trunk.
  • noun A slender stalk supporting or connecting another plant part, such as a leaf or flower.
  • noun A banana stalk bearing several bunches of bananas.
  • noun A connecting or supporting part, especially.
  • noun The tube of a tobacco pipe.
  • noun The slender upright support of a wineglass or goblet.
  • noun The small projecting shaft with an expanded crown by which a watch is wound.
  • noun The rounded rod in the center of certain locks about which the key fits and is turned.
  • noun The shaft of a feather or hair.
  • noun The upright stroke of a typeface or letter.
  • noun Music The vertical line extending from the head of a note.
  • noun The main line of descent of a family.
  • noun Linguistics The main part of a word to which affixes are added.
  • noun Nautical The curved upright beam at the fore of a vessel into which the hull timbers are scarfed to form the prow.
  • noun The tubular glass structure mounting the filament or electrodes in an incandescent bulb or vacuum tube.
  • intransitive verb To have or take origin or descent.
  • intransitive verb To remove the stem of.
  • intransitive verb To provide with a stem.
  • intransitive verb To make headway against (a tide or current, for example).
  • idiom (from stem to stern) From one end to another.
  • intransitive verb To stop or stanch (a flow).
  • intransitive verb To restrain or stop.
  • intransitive verb To plug or tamp (a blast hole, for example).
  • intransitive verb Sports To turn (a ski, usually the uphill ski) by moving the heel outward.
  • intransitive verb To stem a ski or both skis, as in making a turn.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To remove the stem of; separate from the stem: as, to stem tobacco.
  • To stop; check; dam up, as a stream.
  • To tamp; make tight, as a joint, with a lute or cement.
  • To dash against with the stem (of a vessel).
  • To keep (a vessel) on its course; steer.
  • To make headway against by sailing or swimming, as a tide or current; hence, in general, to make headway against (opposition of any kind).
  • To make headway (as a ship); especially, to make progress in opposition to some obstruction, as a current of water or the wind.
  • To head; advance head on.
  • An old spelling of steam.
  • noun A curved piece of timber or metal to which the two sides of a ship are united at the foremost end.
  • noun The forward part of a vessel; the bow.
  • noun The body of a tree, shrub, or plant; the firm part which supports the branches; the stock; the stalk; technically, the ascending axis, which ordinarily grows in an opposite direction to the root or descending axis.
  • noun The stalk which supports the flower or the fruit of a plant; the peduncle of the fructification, or the pedicel of a flower; the petiole or leaf-stem. See cuts under pedicel, peduncle, and petiole.
  • noun The stock of a family; a race; ancestry.
  • noun A branch of a family; an offshoot.
  • noun Anything resembling the stem of a plant.
  • noun In type-founding, the thick stroke or body-mark of a roman or italic letter. See cut under type.
  • noun In a vehicle, a bar to which the bow of a falling hood is hinged.
  • noun The projecting rod of a reciprocating valve, serving to guide it in its action. See cut under slide-valve.
  • noun In zoology and anatomy, any slender, especially axial, part like the stem of a plant; a stalk, stipe, rachis, footstalk, etc.
  • noun In ornithology, the whole shaft of a feather.
  • noun In entomology, the base of a clavate antenna, including all the joints except the enlarged outer ones: used especially in descriptions of the Lepidoptera.
  • noun In musical notation, a vertical line added to the head of certain kinds of notes.
  • noun In philology, a derivative from a root, having itself inflected forms, whether of declension or of conjugation, made from it; the unchanged part in a series of inflectional forms, from which the forms are viewed as made by additions; base; crude form.


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

[Middle English, from Old English stefn, stemn; see stā- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Middle English stemmen, from Old Norse stemma.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old Norse stemma ("to stop, stem, dam") ( > Danish stemme/stæmme ("to stem, dam up")), from Proto-Germanic *stamjan. Cognate with German stemmen; compare stammer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


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