v. stung (stŭng), sting·ing, stings
1. To pierce or wound painfully with a sharp-pointed structure or organ, as that of certain insects.
2. To cause to feel a sharp, smarting pain: smoke stinging our eyes.
3. To cause to suffer keenly in the mind or feelings: Those harsh words stung me.
4. To spur on or stimulate by sharp irritation: "A meaningless retort; the kind someone is stung into making out of sheer exasperation" (Paul Scott).
5. Slang To cheat or overcharge.
1. To have, use, or wound with a sharp-pointed structure or organ: Do all bees sting?
2. To cause a sharp, smarting pain: The needle will sting a little.
1. The act of stinging.
2. The wound or pain caused by stinging.
3. A sharp, piercing organ or part, often ejecting a venomous secretion, as the modified ovipositor of a bee or wasp or the spine of certain fishes.
4. A hurtful quality or power: the sting of rejection.
5. A keen stimulus or incitement; a goad or spur: the sting of curiosity.
6. Slang A confidence game, especially one implemented by undercover agents to apprehend criminals.
[Middle English stingen, from Old English stingan; see stegh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.