Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


1. to move food around in a dish or pan using a spoon or other object

2. to make someone feel upset or angry

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The verb stir comes from an Old English word ‘styrian’ and is related to similar words in other Germanic language.


The verb and noun stir have many meanings, too many to list here. One of the phrasal verbs is stir up, which itself has a number of meanings closely related to those of the plain verb, including to arouse feelings such as anger, enthusiasm and excitement. This coming Sunday is Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent in the Anglican calendar and traditionally the day for making Christmas puddings. The day gets its name from the ‘collect’ or short prayer for the day which begins ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people’. In the days when most people made their own Christmas puddings it was traditional for every member of the family to give the mixture a stir while making a wish. The mixture was then spooned into pudding basins, covered tightly with greaseproof paper or foil and steamed for several hours. The cooked puddings were then put away until Christmas when they were steamed again.


“But when the country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.”
(Thomas Paine)

“Memories are like mulligatawny soup in a cheap restaurant. It is best not to stir them.”
(P. G. Wodehouse)

Related words

beat, blend, churn, mix

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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