(Modern English )


The vocalism of this ME n. cannot straightforwardly be derived from the OE n. stefn, stæfn (masc. i-stem) 'trunk, prow' (or the wk. (poetic) derivative) stefna, stæfna 'prow or stern of a ship', which show i-mutation of the root (cp. MnE stem). Other NGmc and WGmc languages, however, attest a-stem forms, cp. OIcel stafn, stamn 'stem of a ship', OS stamn 'prow, stern', MLG stam, OHG stam 'stem', which could be the source of the ME. An ON etymon is assumed by most commentators (e.g. OED, McGee 415, GollCl, Menner, Anderson, and MED (though also listing WGmc forms as 'also cp.')). The attestation of the rare n. in this sense (MED's (b)) in two N texts may contribute to this assumption.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

stafn, stamn 'stem of a ship'
(ONP stafn (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far stavnur, Icel stafn, Norw stamn, ODan stafn, Dan stavn, OSw stafn, stamn, Sw stam, Sw dial stamn

OE Cognate

stefna, stæfna 'prow or stern of a ship'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



A handful of attestations are cited in MED and OED, beginning in the 14c.; the only other clear examples from literary texts are from c1440(?a1400) Morte Arth.(1) (Thrn).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 486


MED stampne (n.) , OED stam (n.1) , HTOED , de Vries stafn, Mag. stafn, Orel *stamnaz ~ *stamniz, AEW stefna