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[stair] /stɛər/
one of a flight or series of steps for going from one level to another, as in a building.
stairs, such steps collectively, especially as forming a flight or a series of flights:
I was so excited I ran all the way up the stairs.
a series or flight of steps; stairway:
a winding stair.
Origin of stair
before 1000; Middle English stey(e)r, Old English stǣger; cognate with Dutch, Low German steiger landing; akin to sty1
Related forms
stairless, adjective
stairlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for stairs
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Jekyl had never returned, nor had any one descended the stairs since his departure.

    The Daltons, Volume I (of II) Charles James Lever
  • At the head of the stairs they parted, Milbrey joining the lady who had waited for him.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • When Dicksie came down, Marion stood at the foot of the stairs.

    Whispering Smith Frank H. Spearman
  • He took his uncle up in his strong arms, and moved toward the stairs.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • She got a glimpse of him standing thus, as she came down the stairs.

    Coniston, Complete Winston Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for stairs


plural noun
a flight of steps leading from one storey or level to another, esp indoors
(Brit) below stairs, in the servants' quarters; in domestic service


one of a flight of stairs
a series of steps: a narrow stair
See also stairs
Word Origin
Old English stæger; related to stīg narrow path, stīgan to ascend, descend, Old Norse steigurligr upright, Middle Dutch steiger ladder
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stairs



Old English stæger "flight of steps," also "a single step," from Proto-Germanic *staigri (cf. Old Norse and Old Frisian stiga, Middle Dutch stighen, Old High German stigan, German steigen, Gothic steigan "to go up, ascend;" Old English stigan "to climb, go;" German Steig "path," Old English stig "narrow path"), from PIE *steigh- "go, rise, stride, step, walk" (cf. Greek steikhein "to go, march in order," stikhos "row, line, rank, verse;" Sanskrit stighnoti "mounts, rises, steps;" Old Church Slavonic stignati "to overtake," stigna "place;" Lithuanian staiga "suddenly;" Old Irish tiagaim "I walk;" Welsh taith "going, walk, way").

Originally also a collective plural; stairs developed by late 14c. OED says stair still is ordinary in Scotland where flight of stairs would be used elsewhere.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for stairs

staggers, the

noun phrase

A faltering and unsteady physical state, esp from liquor or narcotics intoxication: The next day you've got the staggers and your fine coordination is destroyed for 72 hours

[1599+; originally a disease of animals]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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