"to stay" vs. "to live" (reside)

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 8 01:31:12 UTC 2009

The OED gives the meaning:

 b. To dwell, lodge, reside (permanently or regularly). Sc., S.Afr.,
India, and U.S.
1754 E. BURT Lett. N. Scot. (1818) I. 20, I was told that I
must..inquire for such a launde (or building), where the gentleman
stayd, at the third stair, that is, three stories high. 1800 Monthly
Mag. I. 322 [Scotticisms], He stays in the Canongate, means, He lives
in that suburb. a1915 Mod. (Sc.) Mr. A. moved last Whitsunday; I don't
know where he stays now. a1915 Mod. (Cape Colony: communicated.)
Englishman. Who lived in that house last? Colonial. Oh, Mr. Brown
stayed there. 1951 Amer. Speech XXVI. 75/1 ‘Do you stay here?’ In
common Negro parlance stay is used for ‘live’ but is heard otherwise.
1959 A. FULLERTON Yellow Ford v. 45 ‘Would you care to stay round
here, man?’ I had not caught on, at first, to her meaning: the verb
‘stay’ is used in South Africa when in England we'd say ‘live’. 1962
W. FAULKNER Reivers i. 13 Mr Wimbush stays a solid eight miles from
town. 1980 D. MORAES Mrs Gandhi p. xiii, In March 1977..my wife..and I
went to see her in New Delhi, at 1 Safdarjang Road, the house where
she had stayed since she first became Prime Minister in 1966.

Could the 1962 Faulkner example indicate a Southern usage?


On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 8:18 PM, Bill Palmer <w_a_palmer at bellsouth.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Bill Palmer <w_a_palmer at BELLSOUTH.NET>
> Subject:      "to stay" vs. "to live" (reside)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I taught for a number of years @ a historically black university in NC.
> 100% of my students used phrases like "where do you *stay*", or "I don't
> *stay* with my parents"...situations where the average white person would
> use *live*
> How might this have originated?
> Bill Palmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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