noun (1)
\ ˈstü How to pronounce stew (audio) , ˈstyü\

Definition of stew

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 obsolete : a utensil used for boiling
2 : a hot bath
3a : brothel
b : a district of brothels usually used in plural
4a : fish or meat usually with vegetables prepared by stewing
b(1) : a heterogeneous mixture
(2) : a state of heat and congestion
5 : a state of excitement, worry, or confusion


stewed; stewing; stews

Definition of stew (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to boil slowly or with simmering heat

intransitive verb

1 : to become cooked by stewing
2 : to swelter especially from confinement in a hot or stuffy atmosphere
3 : to be in a state of suppressed agitation, worry, or resentment


noun (2)

Definition of stew (Entry 3 of 3)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for stew

Synonyms: Verb

boil, coddle, parboil, poach, simmer

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of stew in a Sentence


The meat still needs to stew. a can of stewed tomatoes She's been stewing over what he said for days.
See More

First Known Use of stew

Noun (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun (2)

1970, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stew

Noun (1)

Middle English stewe heated room for a steam bath, from Anglo-French estuve, from Vulgar Latin *extufa — more at stove

Noun (2)

short for stewardess

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stew

Statistics for stew

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stew

The first known use of stew was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for stew



English Language Learners Definition of stew

: to cook (something) slowly in hot liquid
: to be upset or worried


\ ˈstü How to pronounce stew (audio) , ˈstyü\

Kids Definition of stew

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a dish of usually meat with vegetables prepared by slow boiling
2 : a state of excitement, worry, or confusion He got in a stew over nothing.


stewed; stewing

Kids Definition of stew (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to boil slowly : simmer stew tomatoes
2 : to become excited or worried Don't stew over what they said.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on stew

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stew

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stew

Spanish Central: Translation of stew

Nglish: Translation of stew for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stew for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about stew

Comments on stew

What made you want to look up stew? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!