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Word of The Month: Stuff

David Zapatka

Friend and fellow bridge player Vicki Aubrey writes, “For some strange reason, I decided to read the book of Ezekiel, the prophet, in the Bible. Wow, what a trip. Anyway, in Chapter 12, the word “stuff” is used several times. My brain went … stuff?? “Stuff” in biblical times? So I went on the rabbit trail. It was very interesting and I thought you might like this word for your WOTM column.”

Stuff – noun  ˈstəf

1. Materials, supplies or equipment used in various activities as in personal property

2. Material to be manufactured, wrought or used in construction as in clear, half-inch pine stuff

3. A finished textile suitable for clothing especially wool or worsted material

4. A literary or artistic production, writing discourse, talk or ideas of little value

5. An unspecified material substance or aggregate of matter as in “volcanic rock is curious stuff, the truth was heady stuff, long-term policy stuff and pick that stuff up off the floor.”

6. Fundamental material; substance as in the stuff of greatness

7. Special knowledge or capability as in she is showing her stuff

8. Spin imparted to a thrown or hit ball to make it curve or change course as in the liveliness of a baseball pitch

9. A basketball dunk shot as in “Wow! Did he stuff that!”

Examples of stuff used in a sentence:

1. She got some stuff out to bake cookies.

2. He’s a geek and knows computers, electronics and stuff like that.

3. I rented a storage unit for all my stuff.

Origin and etymology – Middle English, from Anglo-French estuffes, goods, from estuffer, to fill in; of Germanic origin akin to Old High German stopfōn to stop up; From Latin stuppare; Old English stoppian (“to stop up, close”); Albanian shtyp (“to press, squeeze, stuff”); Dutch stof; German stoff. (Looks like there’s stuff accumulated wherever you live no matter what language you speak!)

First known use was the 14th century.

Is the word “stuff” really used in the Bible? Yes! These quotes were provided by Vicki from her research. “Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 12:1-3 KJV) “Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.” (Genesis 45:17-20 KJV)

Examples of stuff used in literature:

1. “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; / Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.” – c.1599 William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

2. “She was going out to buy some lengths of good woolen stuff for Louise’s winter dresses.” 1992, Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety

Got any stuff to share with our readers? Please submit any thoughts on this month’s column or any word you may like to share along with your insights and comments to [email protected].