a white, tasteless, solid carbohydrate, (C 6 H 1 0 O 5 ) n , occurring in the form of minute granules in the seeds, tubers, and other parts of plants, and forming an important constituent of rice, corn, wheat, beans, potatoes, and many other vegetable foods.
a commercial preparation of this substance used to stiffen textile fabrics in laundering.
starches, foods rich in natural starch.
stiffness or formality, as of manner: He is so full of starch he can't relax.
Informal. vigor; energy; stamina; boldness.
verb (used with object)
to stiffen or treat with starch.
to make stiff or rigidly formal (sometimes followed by up ).

1375–1425; (v.) late Middle English sterchen orig., to stiffen, Old English stercean to make stiff, strengthen, derivative of stearc stark; cognate with German stärken to strengthen; (noun) late Middle English starch(e), sterche, derivative of the v.

starchless, adjective
starchlike, adjective
overstarch, verb (used with object)
overstarched, adjective
unstarched, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
starch (stɑːtʃ)
1.  a polysaccharide composed of glucose units that occurs widely in plant tissues in the form of storage granules, consisting of amylose and amylopectinRelated: amylaceous
2.  Also called: amylum a starch obtained from potatoes and some grain: it is fine white powder that forms a translucent viscous solution on boiling with water and is used to stiffen fabric and in many industrial processes
3.  any food containing a large amount of starch, such as rice and potatoes
4.  stiff or pompous formality of manner or conduct
5.  (tr) to stiffen with or soak in starch
6.  (of a person) formal; stiff
Related: amylaceous
[Old English stercan (unattested except by the past participle sterced) to stiffen; related to Old Saxon sterkian, Old High German sterken to strengthen, Dutch sterken; see stark]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1402, from O.E. *stercan (Mercian), *stiercan (W.Saxon) "make rigid," found in stercedferhð "fixed, hard, resolute" (related to stearc "stiff"), from P.Gmc. *starkijanan (cf. Ger. Stärke "strength, starch"), from PIE base *ster- "strong, firm, stiff, rigid" (see
stark). The noun meaning "pasty substance used to stiffen cloth" is first recorded c.1440, from the verb. Fig. sense of "stiffness of manner" is recorded from 1705.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

starch (stärch)

  1. A naturally abundant nutrient carbohydrate found chiefly in the seeds, fruits, tubers, roots, and stem pith of plants, and commonly prepared as a white, amorphous, tasteless powder used in powders, ointments, and pastes. Also called amylum.

  2. A food having a high content of starch, such as rice, bread, and potatoes.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
starch   (stärch)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A carbohydrate that is the chief form of stored energy in plants, especially wheat, corn, rice, and potatoes. Starch is a mixture of two different polysaccharides built out of glucose units, and forms a white, tasteless powder when purified. It is an important source of nutrition and is also used to make adhesives, paper, and textiles.

  2. Any of various substances, including natural starch, used to stiffen fabrics.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see take the starch out of.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Starch is a substance, one form of which is used for cooking, and another of
  which is used to add firmness and shape to clothing.
It breaks starch molecules into more digestible fragments.
The new research is based on the discovery that domestic chili peppers leave
  behind telltale starch grains.
Tapioca starch flour is one of the main ingredients in countless gluten free
  products found in the developed world.
Idioms & Phrases
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