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

  • noun The act or an instance of striking, as with the hand, a weapon, or a tool; a blow or impact.
  • noun The striking of a bell or gong.
  • noun The sound so produced.
  • noun The time so indicated.
  • noun A sudden action or process having a strong impact or effect.
  • noun A sudden occurrence or result.
  • noun A sudden severe attack, as of paralysis or sunstroke.
  • noun A sudden loss of brain function caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel to the brain, characterized by loss of muscular control, diminution or loss of sensation or consciousness, dizziness, slurred speech, or other symptoms that vary with the extent and severity of the damage to the brain.
  • noun An inspired or effective idea or act.
  • noun A single uninterrupted movement, especially when repeated or in a back-and-forth motion.
  • noun A keystroke.
  • noun Any of a series of movements of a piston from one end of the limit of its motion to another.
  • noun A single completed movement of the limbs and body, as in swimming or rowing.
  • noun The manner or rate of executing such a movement.
  • noun The rower who sits nearest the coxswain or the stern and sets the tempo for the other rowers.
  • noun The position occupied by this person.
  • noun A movement of the upper torso and arms for the purpose of striking a ball, as in golf or tennis.
  • noun The manner of executing such a movement.
  • noun A scoring unit in golf counted for such a movement.
  • noun A single mark made by a writing or marking implement, such as a pen.
  • noun The act of making such a mark.
  • noun A printed line in a graphic character that resembles such a mark.
  • noun A distinctive effect or deft touch, as in literary composition.
  • intransitive verb To mark with a single short line.
  • intransitive verb To draw a line through; cancel.
  • intransitive verb Nautical To set the pace for (a rowing crew).
  • intransitive verb To hit or propel (a ball, for example) with a smoothly regulated swing.
  • intransitive verb To make or perform a stroke.
  • intransitive verb Nautical To row at a particular rate per minute.
  • transitive verb To rub lightly with or as if with the hand or something held in the hand; caress. synonym: caress.
  • transitive verb Informal To behave attentively or flatteringly toward (someone), especially in order to restore confidence or gain cooperation.
  • noun A light caressing movement, as of the hand.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To pass the hands or an instrument over (something) lightly or with little pressure; rub, or rub down, with a gentle movement in a single direction: an action often performed for soothing or caressing a person or an animal, also for smoothing or polishing an object, etc., and sometimes as a curative process.
  • Hence, figuratively, to soothe; flatter; pacify; encourage.
  • To affect in some way by a rubbing action.
  • In masonry, to work the face of (a stone) in such a manner as to produce a sort of fluted surface.
  • noun An act of stroking; a stroking caress.
  • noun In golf, any movement of the ball caused by the player, except as provided for in the rule, or any downward movement of the club made with the intention of striking the ball.
  • noun In function-theory, a directed sect in an assigned plane. Two strokes are equal when they are of equal lengths and drawn along parallel lines in the same sense.
  • noun A sweeping movement of a sustained object; the moving of something held or supported through a limited course; in mech., one of a series of alternating continuous movements of something back and forth over or through the same line: as, the strokes of an oar; a stroke of a pen in writing; the strokes of a file, a saw, a piston-rod, or a pump-handle; the length of stroke of a pendulum.
  • noun In rowing, specifically— The manner or style of moving the oars or making strokes; the handling of the oars: as, to set the stroke for the race; the stroke was very rapid or exhausting.
  • noun The guiding-stroke: as, to pull stroke in a race.
  • noun The rower who sets the stroke; the stroke-oar or strokesman.


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

[Middle English, probably from Old English *strāc; see streig- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Middle English stroken, from Old English strācian, from *strāc, stroke; see stroke.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English stroken, straken, from Old English strācian ("to stroke"), from Proto-Germanic *straikōnan (“to stroke, caress”). Cognate with German streicheln ("to stroke, fondle").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English *stroak, strok, strak, from Old English *strāc (“stroke”), from Proto-Germanic *straikaz (“stroke”), from Proto-Indo-European *streyg- (“stroke; to strike”). Cognate with Scots strak, strake, straik ("stroke, blow"), Middle Low German strēk ("stroke, trick, prank"), German Streich ("stroke").


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  • I had a great uncle who, after suffering a stroke, could no longer remember certain words. Notable among them was the word "stroke". He would write it all over on notepads and in the margins of newspapers to help him remember it. Sometimes he would still have to ask his wife "What did I have again?".

    I think he also had a problem with the word chicken

    April 11, 2007