9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[stawl] /stɔl/
verb (used without object)
to delay, especially by evasion or deception.
Sports. to prolong holding the ball as a tactic to prevent the opponent from scoring, as when one's team has the lead.
Compare freeze (def 31).
verb (used with object)
to delay or put off, especially by evasion or deception (often followed by off):
He stalled the police for 15 minutes so his accomplice could get away.
a pretext, as a ruse, trick, or the like, used to delay or deceive.
Underworld Slang. the member of a pickpocket's team who distracts the victim long enough for the theft to take place.
Sports. slowdown (def 3).
Origin of stall2
1490-1500; earlier stale decoy bird (> Anglo-French estale decoy pigeon), Old English stæl- decoy (in stælhrān decoy reindeer); akin to stall1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for stall off


  1. a compartment in a stable or shed for confining or feeding a single animal
  2. another name for stable1 (sense 1)
a small often temporary stand or booth for the display and sale of goods
(in a church)
  1. one of a row of seats, usually divided from the others by armrests or a small screen, for the use of the choir or clergy
  2. a pen
an instance of an engine stalling
a condition of an aircraft in flight in which a reduction in speed or an increase in the aircraft's angle of attack causes a sudden loss of lift resulting in a downward plunge
any small room or compartment
  1. a seat in a theatre or cinema that resembles a chair, usually fixed to the floor
  2. (pl) the area of seats on the ground floor of a theatre or cinema nearest to the stage or screen
a tubelike covering for a finger, as in a glove
(pl) short for starting stalls
(Brit) set out one's stall, to make the necessary arrangements for the achievement of something and show that one is determined to achieve it
to cause (a motor vehicle or its engine) to stop, usually by incorrect use of the clutch or incorrect adjustment of the fuel mixture, or (of an engine or motor vehicle) to stop, usually for these reasons
to cause (an aircraft) to go into a stall or (of an aircraft) to go into a stall
to stick or cause to stick fast, as in mud or snow
(transitive) to confine (an animal) in a stall
Word Origin
Old English steall a place for standing; related to Old High German stall, and stellen to set


to employ delaying tactics towards (someone); be evasive
(intransitive) (sport, mainly US) to play or fight below one's best in order to deceive
an evasive move; pretext
Word Origin
C16: from Anglo-French estale bird used as a decoy, influenced by stall1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for stall off



"place in a stable for animals," Old English steall "place where cattle are kept, place, position," from Proto-Germanic *stallaz (cf. Old Norse stallr "pedestal for idols, altar," Old Frisian stal, Old High German stall "stand, place, stable, stall," German Stall "stable," Stelle "place"), earlier *stalnaz- or *stathlo-, from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place (cf. Greek stele "standing block, slab," Latin stolidus "insensible, dull, brutish," properly "unmovable").

The word passed into Romanic languages (cf. Italian stallo "place," stalla "stable;" Old French estal "place, position, stand, stall," French étal "butcher's stall"). Several meanings, including that of "a stand for selling" (mid-13c., implied in stallage "tax levied for the privilege of erecting a stall at a market or fair"), are from (or influenced by) Old French estal. Meaning "partially enclosed seat in a choir" is attested from c.1400; that of "urinal in a men's room" is from 1967.

"pretense to avoid doing something," variant of stale "bird used as a decoy to lure other birds" (mid-15c.), from Anglo-French estale "decoy, pigeon used to lure a hawk" (13c., cf. stool pigeon), literally "standstill," from Old French estal "place, stand, stall," from Frankish *stal- "position," cognate with Old English steall (see stall (n.1)).

Cf. Old English stælhran "decoy reindeer," German stellvogel "decoy bird." Figurative sense of "deception, means of allurement" is first recorded 1520s. Meaning "evasive trick or story, pretext, excuse" first recorded 1812 (see stall (v.)); sense entwined with that of "thief's assistant" (1590s).

The stallers up are gratified with such part of the gains acquired as the liberality of the knuckling gentlemen may prompt them to bestow. [J.H. Vaux, "Flash Dictionary," 1812]


1590s, "to screen a pickpocket from observation," from stall (n.2) "decoy." Meaning "to precaricate, be evasive, play for time" is attested from 1903. Of engines or engine-powered vehicles, it is attested from 1904 (transitive), 1914 (intransitive), from earlier sense of "to become stuck, come to a standstill" (c.1400), which is directly from Old French estale or Old English steall (see stall (n.1)). Related: Stalled; stalling.

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

stake someone to something

verb phrase

To give or provide something to someone, inferentially as a loan: Could you stake me to a new suit so I can get a job?

[1853+; fr the earlier senses where stake meant someone's basic provisions for farming, prospecting, etc]



To harass someone, esp a woman, in a menacing way: During the first week at Wimbledon, a German stalking Steffi Graf had to be expelled/ The clinics have recourse to local laws against blocking an entrance and stalking doctors and nurses/ A 9-year old boy who left a message for a 10-year old girl has been accused of violating the state's anti-stalking law (1980s+)

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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