stem·​ma | \ ˈste-mə How to pronounce stemma (audio) \
plural stemmata\ ˈste-​mə-​tə How to pronounce stemma (audio) \

Definition of stemma

1 : a simple eye present in some insects
2 : a scroll (as among the ancient Romans) containing a genealogical list
3 : a tree showing the relationships of the manuscripts of a literary work

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Other Words from stemma

stemmatic \ ste-​ˈma-​tik How to pronounce stemma (audio) , stə-​ \ adjective

Examples of stemma in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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, "Did the Black Death Rampage Across the World a Century Earlier Than Previously Thought?," 25 Mar. 2021

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

First Known Use of stemma

1826, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stemma

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

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Last Updated

1 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stemma.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 May. 2021.

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