There are 2 main definitions of stir in English:

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stir 1

Line breaks: stir

verb (stirs, stirring, stirred)

1 [with object] Move a spoon or other implement round and round in (a liquid or other substance) in order to mix it thoroughly: Desmond stirred his tea and ate a biscuit [no object]: pour in the cream and stir well
More example sentences
  • I raised an eyebrow, grabbing a wooden spoon to stir the thickening tomato sauce.
  • Serena picked up a spoon and stirred the froth on her coffee.
  • Pour in the wine and stir the rice until the liquid bubbles away.
mix, blend, agitate;
beat, whip, whisk, fold in;
North American  muddle
1.1 (stir something in/into) Mix an ingredient into (a liquid or other substance) by moving a spoon or other implement round and round: stir in the flour and cook gently for two minutes
More example sentences
  • He took the dish off the plate and began pouring it generously into the dark liquid, stirring the spirals into the tea with a small silver spoon.
  • Mix the extra ingredients together in a bowl, stir the sifted flour into the mixture then add cream and milk.
  • He took his spoon and stirred a sugar packet into his coffee.
2Move or cause to move slightly: [no object]: nothing stirred except the wind [with object]: a gentle breeze stirred the leaves cloudiness is caused by the fish stirring up mud
More example sentences
  • The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.
move slightly, change one's position, twitch, quiver, tremble
disturb, rustle, shake, move, flutter, agitate, swish
2.1 [no object] Rise or wake from sleep: no one else had stirred yet
More example sentences
  • The woman stirred suddenly, waking from a restless sleep.
  • He fought it but soon he was stirring and rising from bed.
  • The night's respite must have revitalized him, for he was stirring, even rising.
get up, get out of bed, rouse oneself, bestir oneself, rise, show signs of life, be up and about, be active;
wake up, awaken, waken
informal be up and doing, rise and shine, surface
literary arise
2.2 (stir from/out of) Leave or go out of (a place): as he grew older, he seldom stirred from his club
More example sentences
  • I slept through Saturday though I intended to do a couple of things, and was stirred from my lair by Heather phoning about Tim's birthday drinks which I was intended to go along to.
  • Half an hour later, I finally stirred from the sofa and thought that I might as well go back to bed.
  • You can be Indian living in America or American living in India; and sometimes, like the chatty souls at the call centers in India, you can be both and not even stir from your chair!
leave, depart from, go out of;
move from, budge from, make a move from, shift from
2.3Begin or cause to begin to be active or to develop: [no object]: the 1960s, when the civil rights movement stirred [with object]: a voice stirred her from her reverie he even stirred himself to play an encore
More example sentences
  • Which is why I can see both West Ham and Bolton winning and the Hammers going down, deserved punishment for a season in which they stirred themselves only when it was too late.
  • Punch and Layerthorpe were on level terms as they started the pairs but Punch stirred themselves to close the match 6-3 in their favour.
  • Speaker after speaker has stirred themselves to say ‘We are the party of decency, of honesty, of straight-speaking’.
spur, drive, rouse, prompt, propel, prod, move, motivate, encourage;
urge, impel, induce;
provoke, goad, prick, sting, incite, inflame;
North American  light a fire under
3 [with object] Arouse strong feeling in (someone); move or excite: they will be stirred to action by what is written he stirred up the sweating crowd
More example sentences
  • But he was not stirred to battle because the English had killed his father, as claimed in Braveheart.
  • All I know is that you should write the music that you love and that you believe in, that stirs you and excites you.
  • Founders proudly propagated the ‘One Zambia One Nation’ slogan that stirred the people to move on strongly and united.
arouse, rouse, kindle, inspire, stimulate, excite, awaken, waken, quicken, animate, activate, galvanize, fire, electrify, whet
literary enkindle
3.1Arouse or prompt (a feeling or memory) or inspire (the imagination): the story stirred many memories of my childhood the rumours had stirred up his anger
More example sentences
  • As it stirs our emotions with memories, it also makes possible the construction of a never-to-be forgotten narrative sequence.
  • I owe her, and her husband Paul, my entire subsequent career and memories of them stir great affection.
  • They hoped this act would stir a feeling, prompting the practitioners to serve in modesty to make up for the inadequate medical technology they had.
3.2 [no object] British informal Deliberately cause trouble by spreading rumours or gossip: Francis was always stirring, trying to score off people
More example sentences
  • My ringworm worried her more than the swarms of rumors the local gossips were stirring.
  • They all minded themselves helplessly as they stirred with talks of gossip, death, and pets.


[in singular] Back to top  
1A slight physical movement: I stood, straining eyes and ears for the faintest stir
More example sentences
  • It was then that Ardon felt an odd stir of movement beneath him.
  • My feet landed without the slightest stir of dust, or typical crunch of moving dirt and rocks.
  • There was a stir of motion from the corner of her room.
1.1An initial sign of a specified feeling: Caroline felt a stir of anger deep within her breast
More example sentences
  • As he expounded the philosophy of enterprise and free-market wealth creation, there was a stir of interest in the public gallery.
  • The finds created a stir of interest in the isolated fishing community.
  • He had seen that stare directed at errant Constables and felt a stir of pity for her.
2A commotion: the event caused quite a stir
More example sentences
  • Probably neither name caused much stir from the leather armchairs in the New Club, where the city's grandees would once have counted the man in charge at North Bridge as one of their own.
  • What happens in Congo does not cause the slightest stir in the boardrooms of London and New York.
  • Yet, it seems that it is popular enough to have created a stir in the physics department.
commotion, disturbance, fuss, ado, excitement, flurry, uproar, ferment, brouhaha, furore, turmoil, sensation
informal to-do, hoo-ha, hullabaloo, flap, song and dance, splash
British informal kerfuffle
3An act of stirring food or drink: he gives his Ovaltine a stir
More example sentences
  • Give the chocolate mixture a stir, then spoon into the moulds.
  • After the butter had melted Aunty Jenni gave the mixture a really good stir and some strange dark brown shapes rose to the surface from the depths.
  • This refers to the process of pouring the ingredients into the glass on top of each other and giving it a slight stir.


stir the blood
Make someone excited or enthusiastic.
Example sentences
  • There was little between two great teams, but Waterford were the sharper, the more determined and, in the end, sharpness and determination allied to a brand of hurling that still stirs the blood and excites the memory carried that day.
  • Which is the shrewdest motivational trick of all for a national team manager to employ, because at the top level it is not money or patriotism which stirs the blood of footballers, but the prospect of self-improvement.
  • Do we not deserve a flag that stirs the blood and sparks starry-eyed pride in the way that the Star-Spangled Banner does for Americans?
stir the possum
Australian informal Excite interest or controversy: an article on hypocrisy would stir the possum
More example sentences
  • He was out there trying to stir the possum, be a troublemaker, and we'll miss him.
  • How should we react to this, is this just stirring the possum?
  • I think it's stirring the possum a little bit, but I do think that there something behind it that we ought to continually ask ourselves about.
stir one's stumps
[often in imperative] British informal, dated (Of a person) begin to move or act.
Example sentences
  • Things are never dull when she stirs her stumps to create a mild uproar in that pompous little town.
  • Here, you Matthews, look for sharp and stir your stumps a bit - one would think you were walking in your sleep.
  • Unfortunately, this is one disadvantage to being published by a small press - you pretty much have to stir your stumps and do your own promotion.
be quick, look smart, hurry up, speed up
informal make it snappy, get cracking, get moving, step on it, step on the gas, rattle one's dags
British informal get one's skates on
North American informal get a wiggle on
South African informal put foot

Phrasal verbs

stir something up
Cause or provoke trouble or bad feeling: he accused me of trying to stir up trouble
More example sentences
  • We both laughed nervously and he told me that he had heard that some Asian youths in Leeds had been stirring things up by deliberately leaving rucksacks on buses.
  • A brewery is stirring up a touch of controversy in the Yorkshire Dales - with an advertising campaign declaring that ‘drinking is folly’.
  • "They have been stirring up chaos in Hong Kong and at the same time they want to change the mainland's political system.
whip up, work up, foment, fan the flames of, trigger, spark off, excite, provoke, instigate, incite;
cause, precipitate, produce, generate, give rise to


Old English styrian, of Germanic origin; related to German stören 'disturb'.

Words that rhyme with stir

à deux, agent provocateur, astir, auteur, aver, bestir, blur, bon viveur, burr, Chandigarh, coiffeur, concur, confer, connoisseur, cordon-bleu, cri de cœur, cur, danseur, Darfur, defer, demur, de rigueur, deter, entrepreneur, er, err, farceur, faute de mieux, fir, flâneur, Fleur, force majeure, fur, hauteur, her, infer, inter, jongleur, Kerr, littérateur, longueur, masseur, Monseigneur, monsieur, Montesquieu, Montreux, murre, myrrh, occur, pas de deux, Pasteur, per, pisteur, poseur, pot-au-feu, prefer, prie-dieu, pudeur, purr, raconteur, rapporteur, refer, répétiteur, restaurateur, saboteur, sabreur, seigneur, Sher, shirr, sir, skirr, slur, souteneur, spur, tant mieux, transfer, Ur, vieux jeu, voyageur, voyeur, were, whirr
Definition of stir in:
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There are 2 main definitions of stir in English:

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stir 2 Line breaks: stir


Prison: I’ve spent twenty-eight years in stir
More example sentences
  • In stir, he dreamed about his boxing career, how he was going to train and go straight and turn his life around.
  • That's right; something as innocent as playing computer chess on your laptop in a hotel lobby is now a crime with penalties of up to three months in stir and a fine of 10,000 euros.
  • He later retained an attorney, and after seven months in stir was released on bail with his pre-trial release restrictions tightened further.


Mid 19th century: perhaps from Romany sturbin 'jail'.

Definition of stir in:
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