'halt, stop'

(Modern English )


The etymology of this v. is obscure and most commentators hesitate to do more than suggest potential connections among a set of evidently related Gmc verbs whose precise relationship is opaque. The sense 'stop' or 'stumble' is evident from the use of the word elsewhere (see MED, OED) and fits the context of Pe 149 ('abowte me con I stote and stare'); the relative likelihood of various potential etymologies depends in part on which gloss is preferred. Osgood and Goll compare Du stoten (< PGmc *stautan-), which MED concludes is 'probably' the source. Kroonen suggests that the ME word derives from an iterative *stut(t)ōn- and compares Ger (obsolete) stotzen 'to stick', Swiss stotzen 'to stuff', Rhinelandic stotzen 'to stumble, stagger'. Some early variant spellings in <tt> (see MED) may support this interpretation. OED and McGee (377) both cautiously suggest a connection with ME stutten 'to stop; stutter' from an ablaut variant *stut-, which McGee derives from ON, cp. OIcel stytta 'to cut short' (but MED again refers to Du). Influence from stutten (attested early in the sense 'stop' and later in the sense 'stutter') may account for the development of a secondary sense 'stop' for stoten (first evidenced here) from its earlier and more widely attested meading 'stutter'. As McGee notes, however, the ON word cannot be the source of ME stote unless 'it is a loan-word contaminated by' ME stotaye 'to falter' (< OFr estoutoier 'to fall into disorder'). Bj. argues that stytta is borrowed into ME as stinten 'to stop' (from an earlier form without assimilation of /nt/ > /tt/, cp. OSw stynta); its senses are perhaps better paralleled by the ON, but native derivation is also possible (see OED s.v. stint).

PGmc Ancestor

?*staut- or *stut-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

stytta 'to cut short'
(ONP stytta (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far stytta, Icel stytta, Norw dial stytta, ODan stunte, OSw stynta

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



All of MED and OED's citations in the relevant sense (1) come from N and Sc texts, and none is earlier than Pe. Sense 2 'stutter' is more widely attested in earlier texts.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 149

Goll and Osgood gloss 'stumble' in accordance with their suggested etymology (see etymological discussion).


MED stōten (v.) , OED stote (v.) , HTOED , de Vries stytta, Mag. stytta (2), Kroonen *stut(t)ōn-