\ ˈstärch How to pronounce starch (audio) \
starched; starching; starches

Definition of starch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to stiffen with or as if with starch



Definition of starch (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a white odorless tasteless granular or powdery complex carbohydrate (C6H10O5)x that is the chief storage form of carbohydrate in plants, is an important foodstuff, and is used also in adhesives and sizes, in laundering, and in pharmacy and medicine
2 : a stiff formal manner : formality
3 : resolute vigor

Examples of starch in a Sentence

Verb He starches the collars of his shirts. Noun a middle-aged woman who has retained the starch of youth
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With most forms of field maize—the kind of corn that is grown for polenta and corn flour—the kernels gradually transform from sugar to starch. Bee Wilson, WSJ, 6 Aug. 2022 With baking soda and tapioca starch to absorb excess moisture, this paraben- and aluminum-free deodorant helps underarms stay dry. Katie Berohn, Good Housekeeping, 18 July 2022 Readers wrote in or telephoned with their domestic queries, which could be anything from how to remove a stain from a carpet to how to starch a shirt collar or how to butcher a chicken — anything to do with running a home. Annabel Abbs, Good Housekeeping, 26 Oct. 2021 Over time, the convents became famous as keepers of wondrous secret recipes for exquisite pastries generally made from sugar and egg yolks (which were leftovers from the whites used to starch their habits). Rick Steves,, 21 Oct. 2021 From the moment it is picked, the sugar in corn begins to convert to starch, decreasing its natural sweetness. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, 11 Sep. 2021 The sugar in these sweeter hybrids does not convert to starch as rapidly as the standard hybrids. Jim Gilbert, Star Tribune, 22 July 2021 The sugars in sweet corn turn to starch rapidly and refrigeration helps to slow this process. Patricia S York, Southern Living, 2 June 2021 Cousins of one-pot meals, sheet-pan suppers combine vegetables, protein and starch in a single piece of cookware, but offer a larger canvas to compose a range of shapes and colors. Genevieve Ko New York Times, Star Tribune, 7 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To win over the new group of buyers the N brand is seeking, the Kona N should have a smidge less starch in its suspension. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 2 July 2022 For a family gathering, chef Tiffany Derry might serve it as the starch for, say, oxtails and gravy. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, 16 June 2022 Ultimately, the team decided on a winning combination of biscuit and congee, featuring Petaluma chicken and thickened by the starch from California Koshihikari short-grain rice. Jenny Liao, Bon Appétit, 8 June 2022 The process at its most basic starts with the microbe known as koji (Aspergillus oryzae), which breaks down the starch of special sake rice into sugar. Ellen Bhang,, 3 May 2022 Lastly, there's the starch itself, which Dr. Sobel says naturally coats the outermost layer of hair. Rebecca Dancer, Allure, 21 Feb. 2022 My Forking Life blog, calls for a pure starch (cornstarch in this instance) to help create a crisp exterior (though not the crispiest of the three options). Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2022 Food exchanges: 3 ½ starch, 1 fruit, 3 lean protein. Bethany Thayer, Detroit Free Press, 23 July 2022 Operators and owners of dry cleaners say the prices of starch, steam irons, clothes hangers and utilities such as natural gas have climbed in the past year. Rachel Wolfe, WSJ, 5 July 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of starch


15th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for starch


Middle English sterchen, probably from Old English *stercan to stiffen; akin to Old English stearc stiff — more at stark

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best stand mixers for baking.

Learn More About starch

Time Traveler for starch

Time Traveler

The first known use of starch was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near starch

star catalog



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for starch

Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Starch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for starch


\ ˈstärch How to pronounce starch (audio) \

Kids Definition of starch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a white odorless tasteless substance that is the chief form in which carbohydrates are stored in plants, is an important component of many foods (as rice and bread), and has various uses (as for stiffening clothes)


starched; starching

Kids Definition of starch (Entry 2 of 2)

: to stiffen with starch


\ ˈstärch How to pronounce starch (audio) \

Medical Definition of starch

: a white odorless tasteless granular or powdery complex carbohydrate (C6H10O5)x that is the chief storage form of carbohydrate in plants, is an important foodstuff, has demulcent and absorbent properties, and is used in pharmacy especially as a dusting powder and as a constituent of ointments and pastes

More from Merriam-Webster on starch

Nglish: Translation of starch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of starch for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about starch


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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