Definition of starch in English:

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Pronunciation: /stärCH/


1An odorless tasteless white substance occurring widely in plant tissue and obtained chiefly from cereals and potatoes. It is a polysaccharide that functions as a carbohydrate store and is an important constituent of the human diet.
Example sentences
  • The most important polysaccharides are starch, cellulose and glycogen.
  • Starchy materials which contain more complex carbohydrates, including starch and insulin, require several steps before fermentation.
  • The contents of protein, sugar, starch and lysine in maize plant are critical to maize quality.
1.1Food containing starch.
Example sentences
  • Vegetarians base their diet on four main food groups: starch, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  • Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starch and other foods into energy needed for daily life.
  • If protein foods are eaten with starch, six or more hours are needed depending on the type of protein.
2Powder or spray made from starch and used before ironing to stiffen fabric or clothing.
Example sentences
  • A press cloth also prevents the build-up of fabric finishes and spray starch on the iron soleplate.
  • A good sewing tip from Sharon is to use spray starch on the fabric.
  • You'll need a good iron, a hard surface to iron on (preferably an ironing board), and some spray starch.
3Stiffness of manner or character: the starch in her voice
More example sentences
  • The British reviews were cold and formal... The great Romantic critics had not appeared, to take the starch out of their pompous manners.


[with object]
1Stiffen (fabric or clothing) with starch: (as adjective starched) his immaculately starched shirt
More example sentences
  • The waiters have new uniforms: pinstripe trousers, tail coats, starched shirts with black ties.
  • The war days, the old meeting places and the hours spent starching shirts are all recalled in the special publication.
  • Surely Langlands & Bell could not survive this far from a place that starches shirts?
2North American informal (Of a boxer) defeat (an opponent) by a knockout: Domenge starched Geddami in the first
More example sentences
  • Wlad Klitschko was a last minute replacement and Tye starched him in round 1.


take the starch out of someone

US Deflate or humiliate someone.
Example sentences
  • If they can make the Bulls pay for crowding Wade and fronting Shaq, it will take the starch out of Chicago's defense and force it to back off.
  • It netted 22 yards and seemed to take the starch out of Tennessee's blitzing defense.
  • I didn't want him to go so fast as to take the starch out of him.



Pronunciation: /ˈstärCHər/
Example sentences
  • The table starchers and the machine starchers held a meeting and discussed the situation.
  • Washers worked with boiling water, while starchers had to contend with caustic starches and potentially dangerous detergents, and ironers handled hot, heavy irons.
  • Laundry Machine Operators operate washers, starchers, extractors, tumblers, sterilizers and dryers in a campus laundry; and perform other related duties as required.


Old English (recorded only in the past participle sterced 'stiffened'), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch sterken, German stärken 'strengthen', also to stark.

  • naked from Old English:

    The Old English word naked comes from the same ultimate root as nude (Late Middle English), Latin nudus. The sense of ‘blatant, clear, unashamed’, as in naked ambition, dates from the 13th century. The naked truth, meaning ‘the plain truth, without concealment or embellishment’, dates back to the 14th century. It may originally have developed as a translation of the Latin phrase nudaque veritas in the Odes of the Roman writer Horace, or have come from fables personifying Truth as a naked woman, in contrast to Falsehood, who is elaborately dressed. Stark naked is an alteration of start naked, which probably meant ‘naked even to the tail’, as a start was an animal's tail—as in the red-rumped bird the redstart (late 16th century). First recorded as early as 1530, stark naked developed into starkers in the 1920s. The change was made the easier because stark, which had meant ‘hard, stiff’ in Old English had come to mean ‘absolutely, utterly’ in late Middle English, as in stark staring mad. Words related to stark include the starch (Old English) used for stiffening clothes and probably the stork (Old English) from the bird's stiff posture.

Words that rhyme with starch

arch, larch, march, parch

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: starch

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