1 [no object, usually with adverbial] remain in the same place:you stay here and I’ll be back soonJenny decided to stay at home with their young childhe stayed with the firm as a consultant
(stay for/to) delay leaving so as to join in (an activity):why not stay to lunch?
2 [no object, with complement or adverbial] remain in a specified state or position:her ability to stay calmtactics used to stay in powerI managed to stay out of trouble
3 [no object] (of a person) live somewhere temporarily as a visitor or guest:the girls had gone to stay with friendsMinton invited him to stay the night
Scottish & South African live permanently:where do you stay?
4 [with object] stop, delay, or prevent (something), in particular suspend or postpone (judicial proceedings) or refrain from pressing (charges):there are some cases the Crown feels so serious they don’t want to stay the charges
assuage (hunger) for a short time:I grabbed something to stay the pangs of hunger
literary curb; check:he tries to stay the destructive course of barbarism
[no object, in imperative] archaic wait a moment in order to allow someone time to think or speak:stay, stand apart, I know not which is which
5 [with object] literary support or prop up:it did not matter to you whether the building was stayed up or not?
1a period of staying somewhere, in particular of living somewhere temporarily as a visitor or guest:an overnight stay at a luxury hotel
2 literary a curb or check:there is likely to be a good public library as a stay against boredom
Law a suspension or postponement of judicial proceedings:a stay of prosecution
3a device used as a brace or support.
(stays) historical a corset made of two pieces laced together and stiffened by strips of whalebone.
4 [mass noun] archaic power of endurance:some men are always great at beginnings; but they have no stay in them
be here (or have come) to stay
informal be permanent or widely accepted:the private sector is here to stay and likely to expand
stay the course (or distance)
keep going strongly to the end of a race or contest:critics predicted the car could not stay the distance
pursue a difficult task to the end:success in small businesses requires determination to stay the course
stay of execution
a delay in carrying out a court order:the prisoner was granted a stay of execution by the Supreme Court
remain somewhere without moving or being moved:she told Clarissa to stay put
South African said as an expression of good wishes by a person leaving.
remain in a classroom or school at the end of teaching, especially to receive punishment:please stay behind after class - I would like to talk to you regarding your lateness
continue to study, work, or be somewhere after others have left:75 per cent of sixteen-year-olds stay on in full-time education
(of a guest or visitor) sleep somewhere, especially at someone’s home, for the night:children stay over at each other’s houses more often than they did
not go to bed:they stayed up all night
1remain in the mind or memory of:Gary’s words stayed with her all evening
2continue or persevere with (an activity or task):the incentive needed to stay with a healthy diet
3(of a competitor or player) keep up with (another) during a race or match:Smith is so quick that an offensive tackle can’t stay with him
late Middle English (as a verb): from Anglo-Norman French estai-, stem of Old French ester, from Latin stare 'to stand'; in the sense 'support' (stay1 (sense 5 of the verb) and stay1 (sense 3 of the noun)), partly from Old French estaye (noun), estayer (verb), of Germanic origin