The word stew comes from the Old French verb estuver, which meant "have a hot bath" and entered the English language on several occasions in several weird ways. The first time it showed up was in a 1305 cookbook where it meant "cauldron". The next usage is from 1374, when it meant "room with a fireplace". A variety of other heat-related definitions came and went, including "furnace", "drying room", "brothel" (because hot-air bathhouses often served as brothels), and, in 1756, the modern meaning finally emerged. Estuver comes from the noun estuve, meaning "bath", and that's thought to be from Medieval Latin stupha, which officially has an uncertain origin but might be from the verb extufare, meaning "to let vapor or steam out".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.