*sta- "to stand" (cf. Gk. stellein "to set in order, arrange, equip;" see stet
). The word passed into Romanic languages (cf. It. stallo "place," stalla "stable;" O.Fr. estal "place, position, stand, stall," Fr. 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) O.Fr. 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" (c.1440), from Anglo-Fr. estale "decoy, pigeon used to lure a hawk" (13c., cf. stool pigeon), lit. "standstill," from O.Fr. estal "place, stand, stall," from Frankish *stal- "position," cognate with O.E.
steall (see stall
(n.1)). Cf. O.E. stælhran "decoy reindeer," Ger. stellvogel "decoy bird." Fig. sense of "deception, means of allurement" is first recorded c.1529. Meaning "evasive trick or story, pretext, excuse" first recorded 1812 (see stall
(v.)); sense entwined with that of "thief's assistant" (1591).
"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]
1592, "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 (trans.), 1914 (intrans.), from earlier sense of "to become
stuck, come to a standstill" (c.1400), which is directly from O.Fr. estale or O.E. steall (see stall