1. To stop from motion or falling; to prop; to fix firmly; to hold up; to support. Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. (Ex. Xvii. 12) Sallows and reeds . . . For vineyards useful found To stay thy vines. (Dryden)
2. To support from sinking; to sustain with strength; to satisfy in part or for the time. He has devoured a whole loaf of bread and butter, and it has not staid his stomach for a minute. (Sir W. Scott)
4. To hold from proceeding; to withhold; to restrain; to stop; to hold. Him backward overthrew and down him stayed With their rude hands grisly grapplement. (Spenser) All that may stay their minds from thinking that true which they heartly wish were false. (hooker)
5. To hinde; to delay; to detain; to keep back. Your ships are stayed at Venice. (Shak) This business staid me in london almost a week. (Evelyn) I was willing to stay my reader on an argument that appeared to me new. (locke)
6. To remain for the purpose of; to wait for. I stay dinner there.
Origin: OF. Estayer, F. Etayer to prop, fr. OF. Estai, F. Etai, a prop, probably fr. OD. Stade, staeye, a prop, akin to E. Stead; or cf. Stay a rope to support a mast. Cf. Staid, Stay.
A large, strong rope, employed to support a mast, by being extended from the head of one mast down to some other, or to some part of the vessel. Those which lead forward are called fore-and-aft stays; those which lead to the vessel's side are called backstays. In stays, or Hove in stays, a rope secured at the ends to the heads of the foremast and mainmast with thimbles spliced to its bight into which the stay tackles hook.
Origin: AS. Staeg, akin to D, G, Icel, Sw, & Dan. Stag; cf. OF. Estai, F. Etai, of Teutonic origin.
3. Continuance in a place; abode for a space of time; sojourn; as, you make a short stay in this city. Make haste, and leave thy business and thy care; no mortal interest can be worth thy stay. (Dryden) Embrace the hero and his stay implore. (waller)
6. Restraint of passion; moderation; caution; steadiness; sobriety. Not grudging that thy lust hath bounds and stays. The wisdom, stay, and moderation of the king. (bacon) With prudent stay he long deferred The rough contention. (philips)
(Science: mechanics) Stay bolt, a bolt or short rod, connecting opposite plates, so as to prevent them from being bulged out when acted upon by a pressure which tends to force them apart, as in the leg of a steam boiler. Stay busk, a stiff piece of wood, steel, or whalebone, for the front support of a woman's stays. Cf. Busk. Stay rod, a rod which acts as a stay, particularly in a steam boiler.
Origin: Cf. OF. Estai, F. Etai support, and E. Stay a rope to support a mast.