1 of 2


grub·​stake ˈgrəb-ˌstāk How to pronounce grubstake (audio)
: supplies or funds furnished a mining prospector on promise of a share in his discoveries
: material assistance (such as a loan) provided for launching an enterprise or for a person in difficult circumstances


2 of 2


grubstaked; grubstaking; grubstakes

transitive verb

: to provide with a grubstake
grubstaker noun

Did you know?

Grubstake is a linguistic nugget that was dug up during the famous California Gold Rush, which began in 1848. Sometime between the first stampede and the early 1860s, when the gold-seekers headed off to Montana, prospectors combined grub ("food") and stake, meaning "an interest or share in an undertaking." At first grubstake was a noun, referring to any kind of loan or provisions that could be finagled to make an undertaking possible (with the agreement that the "grubstaker" would get a cut of any profits). By the 1870s, grubstake was also showing up as a verb meaning "to give someone a grubstake," and, since at least 1900, shortly after the Klondike Gold Rush, it has been applied to other situations in which a generous benefactor comes through with the funds.

Examples of grubstake in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Musk, for instance, got at least part of his grubstake from an emerald mine his family owned during the apartheid era in South Africa. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2022 If someone needed a grubstake, Mother White was there. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Mar. 2022 Private capital was a bank loan, a contract between a borrower and lender, or a grubstake raised from family members, friends or business associates. The Economist, 4 July 2019
Out of cash, Steen reluctantly abandoned grubstaking to work as a carpenter in Tucson, Arizona, for a year, but the uranium called to him. Aaron Robinson, Car and Driver, 27 July 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'grubstake.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1863, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1877, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of grubstake was in 1863


Dictionary Entries Near grubstake

Cite this Entry

“Grubstake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: supplies or funds given to a mining prospector in return for a promise of a share in his finds
grubstake verb
grubstaker noun

More from Merriam-Webster on grubstake

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!