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.

  • 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.
  • noun A line or mark impressed by or as if by a sweeping movement; hence, a part of an impression of any kind appearing as if so made: as, the hair-strokes, curved strokes, or up-and-down strokes of a letter; fine or coarse strokes in an engraving. See cut under type.
  • noun A throb; a pulsation; a beat.
  • noun In musical instruments with a keyboard, the range of motion of a key.
  • noun A striking of one body or mass upon another; a sudden impact of an object moved or hurled through space; a blow or concussion, especially one administered or effected by design or in some definite manner: as, a stroke of the fist or of a sword; the strokes of a hammer; the stroke of a bat, a cue, or a mallet against a ball (in various games).
  • noun A sudden or special effect produced upon an object as if by a striking movement; a result or consequence of the action of some rapidly working or efficient agency or cause: as, a stroke of lightning; a stroke of paralysis (for which the word stroke is often used absolutely, both colloquially and by physicians): the stroke of fate or of death: used in the Bible especially of a divine chastisement or judgment.
  • noun A sound of striking; a resonant concussion; a giving out of sounds by striking: as, the strokes of a bell or a hammer; the clock is on (that is, on the point of giving out) the stroke of twelve.
  • noun An effective movement, action, or expression; an energetic touch, effort, or exertion; a piece or course of activity: as, a good stroke of business; he will not do a stroke of work; a bold stroke for liberty.


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 *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").

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").



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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