\ ˈstər How to pronounce stir (audio) \
stirred; stirring

Definition of stir

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to cause an especially slight movement or change of position of tied so tightly he could scarcely stir a finger
b : to disturb the quiet of : agitate often used with up the bear stirred up the bees
2a : to disturb the relative position of the particles or parts of especially by a continued circular movement stirred the paint with a paddle stir the fire often used with up stirred up mud from the lake bottom
b : to mix by or as if by stirring stir one's coffee often used with in stir in the spices
3 : bestir, exert
4 : to bring into notice or debate : raise often used with up stir up sensitive issues
5a : to rouse to activity : evoke strong feelings in music that stirs the emotions
b : to call forth (something, such as a memory) : evoke stir happy remembrances
c : provoke stir a storm of controversy often used with up stir up trouble

intransitive verb

1a : to make a slight movement The leaves were barely stirring.
b : to begin to move (as in rousing) She heard him stirring in bed.
c : to shift to another location : budge haven't stirred since I arrived
2 : to begin to be active The factory stirred to life.
3 : to be active or busy Not a creature was stirring— Clement Moore
4 : to pass an implement through a substance with a circular movement washed the spoon she was stirring with
5 : to be able to be stirred Add water until the mixture stirs easily.


noun (1)

Definition of stir (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a state of disturbance, agitation, or brisk activity
b : widespread notice and discussion : impression the book caused quite a stir
2 : a slight movement
3 : a stirring movement


noun (2)

Definition of stir (Entry 3 of 3)

: prison

Other Words from stir


stirrer noun

Synonyms for stir

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of stir in a Sentence

Verb The cake batter must be stirred for 10 minutes. Stir one cup of sugar into the batter. She was stirred from her sleep by the noise. The breeze stirred the leaves on the tree. We could see people stirring inside the shop. A good book can stir the imagination.
See More

First Known Use of stir


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1851, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stir


Middle English, from Old English styrian; akin to Old High German stōren to scatter

Noun (2)

origin unknown

Learn More About stir

Time Traveler for stir

Time Traveler

The first known use of stir was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near stir




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for stir

Cite this Entry

“Stir.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for stir



English Language Learners Definition of stir

: to mix (something) by making circular movements in it with a spoon or similar object
: to move or cause (someone or something) to move after being still
: to be active or busy


\ ˈstər How to pronounce stir (audio) \
stirred; stirring

Kids Definition of stir

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make or cause to make a usually slight movement or change of position She heard the child stir in bed. The breeze stirred the tree's leaves.
2 : to make active A good book can stir the imagination.
3 : to mix, dissolve, or move about by making a circular movement in He stirred sugar into his coffee. Stir the gravy so it doesn't burn.
4 : to cause to arise or take place Don't stir up trouble.



Kids Definition of stir (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a state of upset or activity A stir of excitement swept through the watching animals …— Robert Lawson, Rabbit Hill The whole town is in a stir.
2 : a slight movement We heard the stir of leaves in the breeze.
3 : the act of making circular movements in Give the sauce a stir.

More from Merriam-Webster on stir

Nglish: Translation of stir for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stir for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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