stem·​ma ˈste-mə How to pronounce stemma (audio)
plural stemmata ˈste-mə-tə How to pronounce stemma (audio)
: a simple eye present in some insects
: a scroll (as among the ancient Romans) containing a genealogical list
: a tree showing the relationships of the manuscripts of a literary work
stemmatic adjective

Examples of stemma in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web According to their stemma records, 15 of the CAO clans claimed to be descendants of Emperor CAO. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 28 Dec. 2011 Her discipline of philology, the study of the development of texts over time, requires comparing manuscripts to each other, building a stemma, or genealogy of texts, from a parent or original manuscript. David M. Perry, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Mar. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stemma.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, wreath, pedigree (from the wreaths placed on ancestral images), from Greek, wreath, from stephein to crown, enwreathe

First Known Use

1826, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of stemma was in 1826

Dictionary Entries Near stemma

Cite this Entry

“Stemma.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

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