early 14c., "to mark (land) with stakes," from stake
(n.). Hence, to stake a claim
(1857). Meaning "to risk, wager" is attested from 1520s, probably from notion of "post on which a gambling wager was placed," though Weekley suggests "there is a tinge of the burning or baiting metaphor" in this usage. Noun meaning "that which is placed at hazard" is recorded from 1530s. Plural stakes
, as in horse racing, first recorded 1690s (cf. sweepstakes
). To have a stake in
is recorded from 1784. Meaning "to maintain surveilance" (usually stake out
) is first recorded 1942, Amer.Eng. colloquial, probably form earlier sense of "mark off territory."