Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to stir: Stir frying
To become acutely anxious, restless, irritable, irrational, and/or depressed from remaining for too long in an unstimulating, confined, and/or isolated environment. "Stir" in this usage is a slang word for prison. We thought taking our family vacation in a tiny cottage out in the country would be a nice break from city life, but we all went a bit stir-crazy after a few days. The doctor said I need to remain in bed as much as possible, but I'll go stir-crazy if I can't get out of the house at least once a day!
stir (one's) stumps
1. To start moving. "Stumps" are a slang term for "legs." You kids have been sitting around playing video games all day—it's time to get outside and stir your stumps!
2. To increase one's pace while doing some activity. Stir your stumps! We've got to move faster if we want to finish our run before sundown.
rude slang To cause trouble and conflict. Quit stirring shit! I know you're the one spreading rumors about me! Somebody is bound to stir shit at Thanksgiving dinner—it happens every year.
straw that stirs the drink
The most valuable or important person or thing in a system. The phrase is usually attributed to baseball player Reggie Jackson. In this law firm, Ed may think that he's the straw that stirs the drink, but there are plenty of other lawyers that we could replace him with. Ever since Jeannie found out she got the lead in the play, she's been acting like the straw that stirs the drink.
you should know a man seven years before you stir his fire
In interactions with people you don't know well, you should behave with caution and avoid meddling in their affairs. Mother, you don't know Sir Harold well enough to inquire about his personal life. Remember: you should know a man seven years before you stir his fire.
cause (quite) a stirand cause a commotion
to cause people to become agitated; to cause trouble in a group of people; to shock or alarm people. When Bob appeared without jacket and tie, it caused a stir at the state dinner. The dog ran through the church and caused quite a commotion.
stir someone (in)to something
to excite someone into doing something. The events of the day stirred everyone into action. The danger stirred them to action.
stir someone up
Fig. to get someone excited; to get someone angry. (Fig. on stir something up.) The march music really stirred the audience up. The march stirred up the audience.
stir something around
to agitate or mix a liquid substance by moving it in a circular motion. stir the mixture around to mix it up. You should stir the dressing around a bit before you serve it.
stir something into somethingand stir something in
to mix something into something. The painter stirred too much red pigment into the paint. The painter stirred in the pigment.
stir something up
1. Lit. to mix something by stirring. Please stir the pancake batter up before you use it. Please stir up the batter.
2. Fig. to cause trouble. Why are you always trying to stir trouble up? Are you stirring up trouble again?
stir up a hornet's nest
Fig. to create a lot of trouble. (Fig. on stir something up .) If you say that to her, you will be stirring up a hornet's nest. There is no need to stir up a hornet's nest.
crazy from being confined. (*Typically: be ~; become ~; go ~; get ~; make someone ~. stir is a slang word for prison.) I am going to go stir-crazy if I don't get out of this office.
cause a stiralso create a stir
to cause unusual interest or excitement Rufus was arguing with his older daughter about her boyfriend, and it caused a stir in the family.
Usage notes: often used with quite for emphasis: Her latest novel has created quite a stir.
stir up somebody/somethingalso stir up a hornet's nest
to cause a situation that upsets many people One official claimed that foreign activists were stirring up trouble. The threat of censorship stirred up a hornet's nest of criticism on the Internet.
cause/create a stir
to cause a lot of interest and excitement Emma caused quite a stir in her little black dress last night.
stir-crazy(mainly American informal)
upset and nervous because you have been in one place for too long
Usage notes: Stir is a word used in American English for a prison.It's no wonder she's going stir-crazy, shut in that tiny house all day with three young children.
cause a commotion
Also, cause a stir. Give rise to a disturbance, raise a fuss. For example, The opening debate was so bitter it caused a commotion in the legislature, or Her entrance always caused a stir.
1. Mix together the ingredients or parts, as in He stirred up some pancake batter, or Will you stir up the fire? [Mid-1300s]
2. Rouse to action, incite, provoke, as in He's always stirring up trouble among the campers, or If the strikers aren't careful they'll stir up a riot. [First half of 1500s] Also see stir up a hornets' nest.
stir up a hornets' nest
Make trouble, cause a commotion, as in Asking for an audit of the treasurer's books stirred up a hornets' nest in the association. This metaphoric term, likening hornets to angry humans, dates from the first half of the 1700s.
To introduce something, such as an ingredient, into a liquid or mixture while stirring: The fruit punch tasted a bit bland, so I stirred in a cup of grape juice. Once the sauce is simmering, stir some parsley in.
1. To mix something before cooking or use: You must stir up the concrete thoroughly before you start paving the path. I poured the batter into a bowl and stirred it up vigorously.
2. To churn or agitate something into a state of turbulence: The storm stirred up the normally placid lake. The wind stirs the leaves up.
3. To cause something to form by churning or agitating: The truck zoomed off, stirring a cloud of dust up behind it. I stirred up a batch of concrete in the mixer and got to work paving the driveway.
4. To rouse the emotions of someone or something; excite someone or something: The protesters hope to stir up the public through this demonstration. The teacher stirred the students up when she threatened to give them more work.
5. To summon some collective emotion or sentiment by exciting a group of people: The court's verdict was certain to stir up controversy. The tourism board is trying to stir up interest in the city.
6. To evoke some mental image or remembrance: That old picture stirs up many memories for me.
n. prison. (Underworld.) I can’t stand being in stir!
mod. anxious and mentally disturbed from being confined, as in prison. (see also stir.) I was going stir crazy in my little room, so I moved to a bigger place.