verb \ ˈstȯnch , ˈstänch \
|Updated on: 3 Aug 2018

variant of

1 : to check or stop the flowing of
  • stanched her tears
; also : to stop the flow of blood from (a wound)
2 archaic : allay, extinguish
3 a : to stop or check in its course
  • trying to stanch the crime wave
b : to make watertight : stop up

staunch and stanch

Both stanch and staunch come from the Anglo-French estancher, meaning “to check or stop the flowing of.” Both have been in use for many hundreds of years. And most dictionaries will list them as having the exact same meaning. They are, in fact, variants of each other. But there's a catch: staunch is more commonly used as an adjective (it has several meanings in this role, including “steadfast in loyalty or principle” and "substantial"), and stanch is more commonly used as a verb (common meanings are "to check or stop the flowing of" and "to stop or check in its course"). Here are example of each in typical use:

a staunch supporter/advocate

staunch resistance/allegiance

to stanch the flow/bleeding

stanching the loss of jobs/revenue

Note that saying that something is more commonly used in some way does not necessarily mean that people who choose to use it in the less common way are wrong. There is a considerable body of evidence, from reputable sources, of staunch and stanch being used in their less common roles.

Some people will tell you that you should always keep these words apart, and if you’d like to do this you may find the following sentence of some assistance in helping you to remember the difference: "A staunch friend would help you stanch a bleeding thumb."

Alternatively, you may rely on the time-honored method of people-who-remember-things-poorly and use this limerick:

Tho’ neither stanch nor staunch must conform
To rigid semantical norm
Some editors will blanch,
When encountering stanch
If it’s used in adjective form



adjective \ ˈstȯnch , ˈstänch \
variants: or less commonly play \ˈstȯnch, ˈstänch, ˈstanch\

Definition of staunch

1 a : watertight, sound
b : strongly built : substantial
2 : steadfast in loyalty or principle
  • a staunch friend





Examples of staunch in a Sentence

  1. She is a staunch advocate of women's rights.

  2. He's a staunch believer in the value of regular exercise.

  3. I'm one of his staunchest supporters.

Recent Examples of staunch from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of staunch

Middle English, from Anglo-French estanche, feminine of estanc, from estancher to stanch — more at stanch

Synonym Discussion of staunch

faithful, loyal, constant, staunch, steadfast, resolute mean firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance. faithful implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted.
    • faithful to her promise
loyal implies a firm resistance to any temptation to desert or betray.
    • remained loyal to the czar
constant stresses continuing firmness of emotional attachment without necessarily implying strict obedience to promises or vows.
    • constant friends
staunch suggests fortitude and resolution in adherence and imperviousness to influences that would weaken it.
    • a staunch defender of free speech
steadfast implies a steady and unwavering course in love, allegiance, or conviction.
    • steadfast in their support
resolute implies firm determination to adhere to a cause or purpose.
    • a resolute ally

STAUNCH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of staunch for English Language Learners

  • : very devoted or loyal to a person, belief, or cause

STAUNCH Defined for Kids


adjective \ ˈstȯnch , ˈstänch \

Definition of staunch for Students

stauncher; staunchest
1 : strongly built : substantial
  • staunch foundations
2 : loyal, steadfast
  • They were staunch supporters.



Medical Dictionary


medical Definition of staunch

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having an air of easy unconcern

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