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early 13c., "circumstances, temporary attributes of a person or thing, conditions," from Latin status "manner of standing, position, condition," noun of action from past participle stem of stare "to stand" from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). Some Middle English senses are via Old French estat (French état; see estate).
The Latin word was adopted into other modern Germanic languages (e.g. German, Dutch staat) but chiefly in the political senses only. Meaning "physical condition as regards form or structure" is attested from late 13c. Meaning "mental or emotional condition" is attested from 1530s (phrase state of mind first attested 1749); colloquial sense of "agitated or perturbed state" is from 1837.
He [the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. [U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section iii]
"political organization of a country, supreme civil power, government," 1530s, from state (n.1); this sense grew out of the meaning "condition of a country" with regard to government, prosperity, etc. (late 13c.), from Latin phrases such as status rei publicæ "condition of the republic." Often in phrase church and state, which is attested from 1580s.
The sense of "semi-independent political entity under a federal authority" (as in the United States of America) is from 1856; the British North American colonies occasionally were called states as far back as 1630s. The states has been short for "the United States of America" since 1777; hence stateside (1944), World War II U.S. military slang. State rights in U.S. political sense is attested from 1798; form states rights is first recorded 1858.
1590s, "to set in a position," from state (n.1); the sense of "declare in words" is first attested 1640s, from the notion of "placing" something on the record. Related: Stated; stating.
A condition or situation; status.
storage, architecture, jargon, theory
How something is; its configuration, attributes, condition, or information content. The state of a system is usually temporary (i.e. it changes with time) and volatile (i.e. it will be lost or reset to some initial state if the system is switched off).
A state may be considered to be a point in some space of all possible states. A simple example is a light, which is either on or off. A complex example is the electrical activation in a human brain while solving a problem.
In computing and related fields, states, as in the light example, are often modelled as being discrete (rather than continuous) and the transition from one state to another is considered to be instantaneous. Another (related) property of a system is the number of possible states it may exhibit. This may be finite or infinite. A common model for a system with a finite number of discrete state is a finite state machine.