Printable Version
Pronunciation: stint Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: 1. (Noun) A limited period of time, as 'to do a stint in the army'. 2. (Noun) Limitation or restriction on the amount of something, as 'to indulge oneself without stint'. 3. (Verb) To limit or restrict the amount of something, especially expense, as 'to not stint on wining and dining'.

Notes: Stint is, indeed, a rarity in English: a word that is pronounced exactly the way it is spelled. It comes with several derivational relatives, stinted "scanty", stintage "stinting", and many folks in the 17th century used stinter to refer to people who stint regularly.

In Play: First, the most common usage of today's word: "Every actor worth his or her salt has served a stint as a waiter." The lesser used sense is still around, though: "Harold doesn't stint on subservience with his superiors nor on arrogance toward his inferiors."

Word History: Today's Good Word has cousins everywhere in the PIE languages, all hovering over the sense of "shortness". In Old English today's word was styntan "to blunt, make dull; to stupefy" originally "make short" from Old Germanic stuntijanan "to shorten", which also produced English (to) stunt. The Old Germanic word originated in PIE steu(n)d-, extended form of root (s)teu-/(s)tou- "to push, knock, beat". Extended by -b the PIE word root ended up in English as steep and stoop, since a steep cliff is where a mountain comes up short. The Old English verb is cognate with Icelandic stytta "to shorten". Without the Fickle N the Old Germanic word also became English stutter, German stutzen "to crop, cut off", and Dutch stuiten "to stop, stem, arrest". (We should not stint on gratitude to William Hupy, a frequent contributor of Good Words like today's in the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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