sta·tion·ary | \ˈstā-shə-ˌner-ē \

Definition of stationary 

1 : fixed in a station, course, or mode : immobile

2 : unchanging in condition a stationary population

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stationary or stationery?

The Internet is awash with mnemonics (“something (such as a word, a sentence, or a song) that helps people remember something“) designed to assist those who have trouble distinguishing between two similar words. A fair share of these turn out to be for the words stationery and stationary. The most commonly suggested method is to remember that you buy papER at a stationERy store. If this trick does not work for you, then perhaps it will help to remember that a stationery store is one that is run by a stationer. This word was originally applied to a bookseller, but by the middle of the 17th century it began to be used for a person who sells papers, pens, and office goods.

Examples of stationary in a Sentence

Einstein imagined a beam of light piercing the elevator. If the elevator were rising relative to the source of light, the beam would enter at a certain height on one side of the elevator and appear to curve on its way to a lower height on the opposite wall. Einstein then imagined that the elevator were stationary on the surface of the earth. Since he postulated that the two circumstances are the same, Einstein concluded that the same effect would have to hold true for both. In other words, gravity must bend light. Smithsonian, June 2005 By pushing the keys with the side of his fist and pushing foot pedals, the player transfers mechanical force to clappers, which strike the stationary bells, which are tuned to specific notes. — Douglas Martin, New York Times, 19 Oct. 2003 And while atomic reactors and chemical storage facilities are the sort of stationary targets that invite bombing, bioweapons laboratory materials are small enough to be put in a truck and moved to another location. — Gregg Easterbrook, New Republic, 25 Feb. 2002 The weather front has remained stationary over the Southeast. a stationary bicycle is good for exercise, but you won't enjoy the scenery very much
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Recent Examples on the Web

Some of the stationary tall bookcases were replaced with shorter movable bookcases and a MakerSpace was created. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Rancho Bernardo High library renovated thanks to $24K grant from county," 16 May 2018 Forecasters said the storm was stationary and that little motion is expected during the next two or three days. Michael Collins, USA TODAY, "Hurricane Beryl downgraded to a tropical storm; separate storm off Carolina coast also weakens," 7 July 2018 The notion that players who can’t get away from the hoop can’t excel in today’s NBA ignores the reality that the best centers have never been stationary. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Moore: Deandre Ayton pick shows big men relevant as ever in modern NBA," 23 June 2018 Until then, the goalie had to remain stationary in the center of the goal until the ball was struck. Allen St. John, Popular Mechanics, "The Physics and Mind Games of a World Cup Penalty Kick," 6 June 2018 Back in Norway, prior to the trip, Jornet and Forsberg had pre-acclimatized for one month, cranking out high-intensity intervals on a stationary bike while sucking reduced oxygen through a face mask. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "Are Kilian Jornet's Speed Records Too Good to Be True?," 12 July 2018 The storm is stationary, and little movement is expected until it is expected to go in a northeasterly direction late Tuesday. Stephen Ruiz,, "Tropical Storm Chris targeted to become hurricane Tuesday, forecasters say," 9 July 2018 The hotel expanded the bar, opening up more windows onto Royal Street and adding a second -- albeit stationary -- bar as well as a stage for local musicians. Ann Maloney,, "Carousel Bar one of 'world's most iconic hotel bars,' says Food & Wine," 31 May 2018 Because for almost the entirety of City Lit Theater's 85-minute performance, Mark Pracht is entirely stationary. Max Maller, Chicago Reader, "Prometheus Bound remains inert," 10 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of stationary

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stationary

see station entry 1

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for stationary

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

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More Definitions for stationary



English Language Learners Definition of stationary

: not moving : staying in one place or position

: not changing


sta·tion·ary | \ˈstā-shə-ˌner-ē \

Kids Definition of stationary

1 : having been set in a certain place or post : immobile a stationary bike

2 : not changing : stable Their weekly income remained stationary.


sta·tion·ary | \ˈstā-shə-ˌner-ē \

Medical Definition of stationary 

1 : fixed in position : not moving

2 : characterized by a lack of change the patient's condition remained stationary

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Comments on stationary

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lying above or upon

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