Word Origin & History
O.E. stocc "stump, post, stake, tree trunk, log," also "pillory" (usually plural, stocks), from P.Gmc. *stukkaz "tree trunk" (cf. O.N. stokkr "block of wood, trunk of a tree," O.S., O.Fris. stok, M.Du. stoc "tree trunk, stump," Du. stok "stick, cane," O.H.G. stoc "tree trunk, stick," Ger. Stock "stick,
cane;" also Du. stuk, Ger. Stück "piece"), from PIE *(s)teu- (see steep
(adj.)). Meaning "ancestry, family" (late 14c.) is a figurative use of the "tree trunk" sense (cf. family tree). This is also the root of the meaning "heavy part of a tool," and "part of a rifle held against the shoulder" (1540s). Stock, lock, and barrel "the whole of a thing" is recorded from 1817. Meaning "framework on which a boat was constructed" (early 15c.) led to figurative phrase on stocks "planned and commenced" (1660s). Stock-still (late 15c.) is lit. "as still as a tree trunk."
"supply for future use" (1428), "sum of money" (1463), M.E. developments of stock
(n.1), but the ultimate sense connection is uncertain. Perhaps the notion is of the "trunk" from which gains are an outgrowth, or obs. sense of "money-box" (c.1400). Meaning "subscribed capital
of a corporation" is from 1612. Stock-broker is from 1706; stock exchange is from 1773. The verb meaning "to supply (a store) with stock" is from 1622; in stock "in the possession of a trader" is from 1618. Meaning "broth made by boiling meat or vegetables" is from 1764. Theatrical use, in ref. to a company regularly acting together at a given theater, is attested from 1761. In ref. to conversation or literature, "recurring, commonplace" (e.g. stock phrase), it is attested from 1738, on notion of "kept in store for constant use." Taking stock "making an inventory" is attested from 1736. As the collective term for the movable property of a farm, it is recorded from 1519; hence livestock (1523).