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
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
Examples of staunch in a Sentence
She is a staunch advocate of women's rights.
He's a staunch believer in the value of regular exercise.
I'm one of his staunchest supporters.
Recent Examples of staunch from the Web
Several members of the Eagles have voiced staunch opposition to the owners' decision.
Moving further to the left, emerging as a staunch opponent to the death penalty and a big backer of the state’s marijuana industry.
Several members of the Eagles have voiced staunch opposition.
Fallon has been a staunch supporter of the Stoneman Douglas student activists since the Feb. 14 shooting and praised the students on his late-night show.
Sanchez and his party are staunch supporters of the EU and the continent's shared currency.
Yet on Capitol Hill, there’s little ambiguity about the role Nadler — a staunch opponent of Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 — could soon play.
Businessman Randy Boyd, one of Black's most staunch opponents in the Republican primary, has already made the congresswoman's time in Washington part of his package of attacks.
On Wednesday McCain, who has been a staunch opponent of the use of torture, called for his fellow senators to oppose Gina Haspel’s nomination for CIA director because of abusive interrogation methods used by those under her watch.
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.
Synonym Discussion of staunch
- faithful to her promise
- remained loyal to the czar
- constant friends
- a staunch defender of free speech
- steadfast in their support
- 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
Seen and Heard
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