Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of stem
Meaning of stem by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • enPR: stĕm, IPA: /stɛm/, X-SAMPA: /stEm/
    • Rhymes: -ɛm

    Etymology 1

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


    stem ( plural: stems )

    1. ( botany ) The above-ground stalk ( technically axis ) of a vascular plant, and certain anatomically similar, below-ground organs such as rhizomes, bulbs, tubers, and corms .
    2. A slender supporting member of an individual part of a plant such as a flower or a leaf; also, by analogue the shaft of a feather .
    3. A narrow part on certain man-made objects, such as a wine glass, a tobacco pipe, a spoon .
    4. ( linguistics ) The main part of an uninflected word to which affixes may be added to form inflections of the word. A stem often has a more fundamental root. Systematic conjugations and declensions derive from their stems .
    5. ( typography ) A vertical stroke of a letter .
    6. ( music ) A vertical stroke of a symbol representing a note in written music .
    7. ( nautical ) The vertical or nearly vertical forward extension of the keel, to which the forward ends of the planks or strakes are attached .
    Derived terms


    stem ( third-person singular simple present stems present participle stemming, simple past and past participle stemmed )

    1. To take out the stem from .
    2. To be caused or derived; to originate .
      The current crisis stems from the short-sighted politics of the previous government .
    3. To descend in a family line .
    4. To direct the stem ( of a ship ) against; to make headway against .
    5. ( obsolete ) To hit with the stem of a ship; to ram.

    Etymology 2

    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 .


    stem ( third-person singular simple present stems present participle stemming, simple past and past participle stemmed )

    1. To stop, hinder ( for instance, a river or blood ).
    2. ( skiing ) To move the feet apart and point the tips of the skis inward in order to slow down the speed or to facilitate a turn .

    External links

    • stem in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
    • stem in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
    • “stem” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary ( 2001 ) .


    • Mets

Explanation of stem by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. remove the stem from

    2. for automatic natural language processing, the words must be stemmed
    3. stop the flow of a liquid

    4. stem the tide
    5. grow out of, have roots in, originate in

    6. The increase in the national debt stems from the last war
    7. cause to point inward

    8. stem your skis
    1. a turn made in skiing

    2. front part of a vessel or aircraft

    3. cylinder forming a long narrow part of something

    4. the tube of a tobacco pipe

    5. the form of a word after all affixes are removed

    6. thematic vowels are part of the stem
    7. a slender or elongated structure that supports a plant or fungus or a plant part or plant organ

    Definition of stem by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Stem Steem v. i. To gleam. [Obs.]

      His head bald, that shone as any glass, . . .

      [And] stemed as a furnace of a leed [caldron]. Chaucer.

    2. Stem, Steem , n. A gleam of light; flame. [Obs.]

    3. Stem ( stĕm ), n. [AS. stemn, stefn, staefn; akin to OS. stamn the stem of a ship, D. stam stem, steven stem of a ship, G. stamm stem, steven stem of a ship, Icel. stafn, stamn, stem of a ship, stofn, stomn, stem, Sw. stam a tree trunk, Dan. stamme. Cf. Staff, Stand.]
      1. The principal body of a tree, shrub, or plant, of any kind; the main stock; the part which supports the branches or the head or top.

      After they are shot up thirty feet in length, they spread a very large top, having no bough nor twig in the trunk or the stem. Sir W. Raleigh.

      The lowering spring, with lavish rain,

      Beats down the slender stem and breaded grain. Dryden.

      2. A little branch which connects a fruit, flower, or leaf with a main branch; a peduncle, pedicel, or petiole; as, “the stem of an apple or a cherry”.

      3. The stock of a family; a race or generation of progenitors. “All that are of noble stem.” Milton.

      While I do pray, learn here thy stem

      And true descent. Herbert.

      4. A branch of a family.

      This is a stem

      Of that victorious stock. Shak.

      5. ( Naut. ) A curved piece of timber to which the two sides of a ship are united at the fore end. The lower end of it is scarfed to the keel, and the bowsprit rests upon its upper end. Hence, the forward part of a vessel; the bow.

      6. Fig.: An advanced or leading position; the lookout.

      Wolsey sat at the stem more than twenty years. Fuller.

      7. Anything resembling a stem or stalk; as, “the stem of a tobacco pipe; the stem of a watch case, or that part to which the ring, by which it is suspended, is attached.”

      8. ( Bot. ) That part of a plant which bears leaves, or rudiments of leaves, whether rising above ground or wholly subterranean.

      9. ( Zool. ) The entire central axis of a feather. The basal portion of the body of one of the Pennatulacea, or of a gorgonian.

      10. ( Mus. ) The short perpendicular line added to the body of a note; the tail of a crotchet, quaver, semiquaver, etc.

      11. ( Gram. ) The part of an inflected word which remains unchanged ( except by euphonic variations ) throughout a given inflection; theme; base.

      From stem to stern ( Naut. ), from one end of the ship to the other, or through the whole length. -- Stem leaf ( Bot. ), a leaf growing from the stem of a plant, as contrasted with a basal or radical leaf.

    4. Stem, v. t.
      1. To remove the stem or stems from; as, “to stem cherries”; to remove the stem and its appendages ( ribs and veins ) from; as, “to stem tobacco leaves”.

      2. To ram, as clay, into a blasting hole.

    5. Stem, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Stemmed ; p. pr. & vb. n. Stemming.] [Either from stem, n., or akin to stammer; cf. G. stemmen to press against.] To oppose or cut with, or as with, the stem of a vessel; to resist, or make progress against; to stop or check the flow of, as a current. “An argosy to stem the waves.” Shak.

      [They] stem the flood with their erected breasts. Denham.

      Stemmed the wild torrent of a barbarous age. Pope.

    6. Stem, v. i. To move forward against an obstacle, as a vessel against a current.

      Stemming nightly toward the pole. Milton.