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Old English stybb "stump of a tree," from Proto-Germanic *stubjaz (cf. Middle Dutch stubbe, Old Norse stubbr), from PIE root *(s)teu- (see steep (adj.)). Extended in Middle English to other short, thick things. The verb sense of "strike (one's toe) against" something is first recorded 1848. Meaning "to extinguish a cigarette" is from 1927. Related: Stubbed; stubbing.