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Adopted c. 1200 from both Old French estat and Latin status (manner of standing, attitude, position, carriage, manner, dress, apparel; and other senses), from stare (to stand). Doublet of estate and status. The sense of "polity" develops in the 14th century. Compare French être, Greek στέω (stéo), Italian stare, Portuguese estar, Romanian sta, and Spanish estar.


  • IPA(key): /steɪt/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪt


state (plural states)

  1. A condition; a set of circumstances applying at any given time.
    a state of being; a state of emergency
    • 1697, John Dryden, transl., “Æneis”, in The Works of Virgil[1], volume III, Londo: Jacob Tonson, published 1721, page 713:
      Relate what Latium was, her ancient Kings : / Declare the paſt, and preſent State of things, / When firſt the Trojan Fleet Auſonia ſought ; / And how the Rivals lov’d, and how they fought.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
      I corralled the judge, and we started off across the fields, in no very mild state of fear of that gentleman's wife, whose vigilance was seldom relaxed.
    1. (physics) A complete description of a system, consisting of parameters that determine all properties of the system.
      • 1977, J. B. Sykes and John Stewart Bell, translating Lev Landau and Evgeny Lifshitz, Course of Theoretical Physics Vol. 3: Quantum Mechanics: Non-relativistic Theory, p.28:
        States in which the energy has definite values are called stationary states of a system; they are described by wave functions Ψn which are the eigenfunctions of the Hamiltonian operator, i.e. which satisfy the equation ĤΨn = EnΨn, where En are the eigenvalues of the energy.
    2. (computing) The stable condition of a processor during a particular clock cycle.
      In the fetch state, the address of the next instruction is placed on the address bus.
    3. (computing) The set of all parameters relevant to a computation.
      The state here includes a set containing all names seen so far.
    4. (computing) The values of all parameters at some point in a computation.
      A debugger can show the state of a program at any breakpoint.
    5. (sciences) The physical property of matter as solid, liquid, gas or plasma.
    6. (obsolete) Highest and stationary condition, as that of maturity between growth and decline, or as that of crisis between the increase and the abating of a disease; height; acme.
  2. High social standing or circumstance.
    1. Pomp, ceremony, or dignity.
      The President's body will lie in state at the Capitol.
    2. Rank; condition; quality.
      • c. 1593, William Shakespeare, Richard III, [Act I, Scene iii]:
        And leſned by that ſmall, God I beſeech him, / Thy honor, ſtate, and ſeate, is due to me.
    3. Condition of prosperity or grandeur; wealthy or prosperous circumstances; social importance.
      • 1616, Francis Bacon, The History of Henry VII, of England, published 1786, page 139:
        Firſt, in princely behaviour and geſture, teaching him how he ſhould keep of a kind of ſtate, and yet, with a modeſt ſenſe of his misfortunes.
      • 1703, Alexander Pope, transl., “The Thebais of Statius”, in The Works of Alexander Pope, volume II, London: H. Lintont et al., published 1751, book I, page 145:
        Can this imperious lord forget to reign, / Quit all his ſtate, deſcend, and ſerve again ?
    4. A chair with a canopy above it, often standing on a dais; a seat of dignity; also, the canopy itself.
      • 1667, John Milton, “Book X”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
        , lines 443–447:
        [] and from the dore / Of that Plutonia Hall, inviſible / Aſcended his high Throne, which under ſtate / Of richeſt texture ſpred, at th’ upper end / Was plac’t in regal luſtre.
      • 1712, John Arbuthnot, Jonathan Swift [uncertain], “Jack’s Charms, or the Method by which he gain’d Peg’s Heart”, in John Bull Still In His Senses, London: John Morphew, page 13:
        He invented a way of coming into a Room backwards, which he ſaid ſhew’d more Humility, and leſs Affectation ; where other People ſtood, he ſat ; when he went to Court, he us’d to kick away the State, and ſit down by his Prince, Cheek by Choul []
    5. (obsolete) A great person, a dignitary; a lord or prince.
      • 1644, John Milton, Aeropagitica, page 1:
        They who to States and Governours of the Commonwealth direct their Speech, High Court of Parlament, or wanting ſuch acceſſe in a private condition, write that which they foreſee may advance the publick good ; I ſuppoſe them as at the beginning of no meane endeavour, not a little alter’d and mov’d inwardly in their mindes []
    6. (obsolete) Estate, possession.
      • 1595, Samuel Daniel, “The Civile Wars between the Two Houses of Lancaster and Yorke”, in Alexander Balloch Grosart, editor, The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Samuel Daniel, volume II, book IV, stanza 20, page 142:
        Their parties great, meanes good, the ſeaſon fit, / Their practice cloſe, their faith ſuſpected not, / Their ſtates far off, and they of wary wit : / Who, with large promiſes, ſo wooe the Scot / To aide their Cauſe, as he conſents to it ; / And glad was to diſturne that furious ſtreame / Of warre, on vs, that elſe had ſwallowed them.
      • c. 1619, Philip Massinger and Nathan Field, “The Fatal Dowry”, in The Works of Philip Massinger, volume II, London: T. Davies, published 1761, [Act V, scene ii], page 271:
        Your ’State, my Lord, again is yours.
  3. A polity.
    1. Any sovereign polity; a national or city-state government.
      • a. 1949, Albert Einstein, as quoted by Virgil Henshaw in Albert Einstein: Philosopher Scientist (1949)
        Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.
      • 2013 June 7, David Simpson, “Fantasy of navigation”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 36:
        It is tempting to speculate about the incentives or compulsions that might explain why anyone would take to the skies in [the] basket [of a balloon]: […];  […]; or perhaps to muse on the irrelevance of the borders that separate nation states and keep people from understanding their shared environment.
    2. A political division of a federation retaining a notable degree of autonomy, as in the United States or Germany.
      • 1839, ‎John Beach, ‎Thomas Clap Perkins, The public statute laws of the state of Connecticut, page 35:
        You do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that you will support the constitution of the United States, and the consititution of the state of Connecticut, so long as you continue a citizen thereof; and that you will faithfully discharge, according to law, the duties of the office of ... to the best of your abilities.
      • 1993, Charles E. McLure, Vertical fiscal imbalance and the assignment of taxing powers in Australia, →ISBN:
        As Australia considers whether to allow states greater latitude in the indirect tax field, it must ask what it will do when (not if) it finally decides that the federal government should enact a modern general sales tax.
      • 2001, Angus Macleod Gunn, The Impact of Geology on the United States, page 0313314446:
        The Central Lowlands is often referred to as the heart of America — and with good reason: If we look at the names of the eight states with populations of 10 million or more, this region has three of them, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, more than any one of the other five.
    3. (obsolete) A form of government other than a monarchy.
      • 1662, John Dryden, “Satire on the Dutch”, in The Works of the English Poets, volume XIII, London: R. Hett, published 1779, page 41:
        Well monarchies may own religion’s name, / But ſtates are atheiſts in their very frame.
    4. (anthropology) A society larger than a tribe. A society large enough to form a state in the sense of a government.
  4. (mathematics, stochastic processes) An element of the range of the random variables that define a random process.
  5. (grammar, semantics) The lexical aspect (aktionsart) of verbs or predicates that do not change over time.
    Antonym: occurrence
    • 1997, Robert van Valin and Randy LaPolla, Syntax[2], page 92:
      [] distinctions among states of affairs are reflected to a striking degree in distinctions among Aktionsart types. That is, situations are expressed by state verbs or predicates, events by achievement verbs or predicates, and actions by activity verbs or predicates.
    • 2010, Nick Riemer, Introducing Semantics[3], page 320:
      The most basic Aktionsart distinction is between states and occurrences.



Derived termsEdit

Pages starting with "state".


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


state (third-person singular simple present states, present participle stating, simple past and past participle stated)

  1. (transitive) To declare to be a fact.
    He stated that he was willing to help.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314, page 0147:
      Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, of errand not wholly obvious to their fellows, yet of such sort as to call into query alike the nature of their errand and their own relations. It is easily earned repetition to state that Josephine St. Auban's was a presence not to be concealed.
  2. (transitive) To make known.
    State your intentions.

Usage notesEdit

State is stronger or more definitive than say. It is used to communicate an absence of reasonable doubt and to emphasize the factual or truthful nature of the communication.



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


state (comparative more state, superlative most state)

  1. (obsolete) stately
    1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], “September. Aegloga Nona.”, in The Shepheardes Calender: [], London: Printed by Hugh Singleton, [], OCLC 606515406; republished as The Shepheardes Calender, [], imprinted at London: By Iohn Wolfe for Iohn Harrison the yonger, [], 1586, OCLC 837880809, folio 36, recto:
    The ſhepheardes ſwayne you cannot well ken, / But it be by his pride, from other men: / They looken bigge as Bulles, that bene bate, / And bearen the cragge ſo ſtiffe and ſo ſtate, / As Cocke on his dunghill, crowing cranck.

Related termsEdit

See alsoEdit


Further readingEdit





  1. plural of staat