AskDefine | Define stale

Dictionary Definition

stale adj
1 showing deterioration from age; "stale bread" [ant: fresh]
2 lacking originality or spontaneity; no longer new; "moth-eaten theories about race" [syn: old, moth-eaten]
3 no longer new; uninteresting; "cold (or stale) news" [syn: cold] v : urinate, of cattle and horses

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /steɪl/, /steIl/
  • Rhymes: -eɪl


  1. Having lost its freshness from age. Stale food, for instance, is food which is still edible but has lost its deliciousness.
    The steak is as stale as the beer.
    If you don't enter a room for some days, the air will become stale.
  2. No longer new; no longer interesting; established; old; as, stale news, a stale joke, etc.


having lost its freshness
no longer new or interesting


  1. In the context of "Shakespearian": A woman who is “no longer fresh” or who has lost her virginity.
    • Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act IV, Scene i, lines 59-60:
      I stand dishonor'd, that have gone about
      To link my dear friend to a common stale


Related terms

Extensive Definition

Staling is a chemical and physical process in bread that reduces its palatability. Stale bread is dry and leathery.
Staling is not, as is commonly believed, simply a drying out process. Bread will stale even in a moist environment, and stales most rapidly at temperatures just above freezing.
Although the precise mechanism of staling is still unknown, one important mechanism appears to be migration of moisture from the starch granules into the interstitial spaces, degelatinizing the starch. This results in stale bread's leathery texture.

Culinary uses

Specifically stale bread is an important ingredient in many dishes, some of which were invented for the express purpose of using up otherwise unpalatable stale bread. Examples include skordalia, bread sauce, croutons, haslet, gazpacho, french toast, and flummadiddle.


Stale bread can be partially destaled by heating to 60 °C (140 °F) in an oven. This re-gelatinizes the starch granules.

See also


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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