grub·​stake | \ ˈgrəb-ˌstāk How to pronounce grubstake (audio) \

Definition of grubstake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : supplies or funds furnished a mining prospector on promise of a share in his discoveries
2 : material assistance (such as a loan) provided for launching an enterprise or for a person in difficult circumstances


grubstaked; grubstaking; grubstakes

Definition of grubstake (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to provide with a grubstake

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Other Words from 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 1879, grubstake was also showing up as a verb meaning "to give someone a grubstake," and, since at least 1937, 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: Noun 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, "The rise and rise of private capital," 4 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Crew Cab Diesel," 27 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grubstake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of grubstake


1863, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1877, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of grubstake was in 1863

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Cite this Entry

“Grubstake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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