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early 14c., "a crutch," from Proto-Germanic *steltijon (cf. Middle Low German, Middle Dutch stelte "stilt," Old High German stelza "plow handle, crutch"), from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand" (see stall (n.1)). Application to "wooden poles for walking across marshy ground, etc." is from mid-15c. Meaning "one of the posts on which a building is raised from the ground" is first attested 1690s. Stilted in the figurative sense of "pompous, stuffy" is first recorded 1820.