From Middle English stalke, stelke, stalk, perhaps from Old English *stealc, *stielc, *stealuc, from Proto-West Germanic *staluk, *stalik, from Proto-Germanic *stalukaz, *stalikaz, diminutive of Proto-Germanic *stalô, *staluz, from Proto-Indo-European *stel-. Cognate with Old High German *stelh in wazzarstelh, Danish stilk, Swedish stjälk, Icelandic stilkur.
Related also to Middle English stale, Old English stalu, Middle Low German stal, stale, Old English stela, steel, Stiel, Albanian shtalkë, Welsh telm, Ancient Greek στέλος, Old Armenian ստեղն.
From Middle English stalken, from Old English *stealcian (as in bestealcian, stealcung), from Proto-Germanic *stalkōną (compare Dutch stelkeren, Danish stalke, Norwegian dialectal stalka), from *stalkaz, *stelkaz (compare stealc, stelkr, stjalkr), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)telg, *(s)tolg- (compare tolg, stalgùs).
Alternate etymology connects *stalkōną to a frequentative form of *stelaną.
Attested 1530 in the sense "to walk haughtily", perhaps from Old English stealc, from Proto-Germanic *stelkaz, *stalkaz; see above.
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