English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I came across someone noting that an English term for the training area of Sumo wrestlers is "sumo stable", and that "stable" is usually a word used for horses. She found it a bit funny. I'm not sure whether she meant "funny" as in "haha", or "funny" as in "strange".

Wiktionary doesn't have any definitions of stable other than a place for animals, or the horses from a stable.

Do English-speakers view sumo wrestlers as being like animals, or is there a meaning of "stable" that I'm unaware of?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by J.R., tchrist, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Waggers, Andrew Leach Apr 9 '13 at 12:54

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This has nothing to do with sumo wrestlers; stable can be applied to writers, producers, editors, companions Hungarian enterprises, computers, consultants, investment banks, exercise gurus – oh, yes, and horses, too. Have a look. – J.R. Apr 7 '13 at 8:27
It's metaphorical, you dog. – Mitch Apr 7 '13 at 18:03
Should this question have been asked on English Language Learners instead? – Andrew Grimm Apr 7 '13 at 20:44
@Mitch, I agree there is no contradiction, but the link posted by Kris leads me to believe that stable is no arbitary word, and that those who know the sport would be unlikely to substitute a word like pool or coalition in that context. – J.R. Apr 8 '13 at 14:09
@J.R.: Right, it's not arbitrary, but even though it is a 'set phrase', it's still metaphorical. The OP wonders if English speakers think sumo wrestlers are like animals, and that is an extreme literal view that is not borne out by usage. – Mitch Apr 8 '13 at 14:25
up vote 2 down vote accepted


  1. The Japanese word (transliterated) heya has been drafted into the English language now:

heya (sumo) the so-called "stable" of rikishi who train under the instruction of a particular shisho; the place where this group lives and trains


This word, like quite a few in English, has concrete and (at-least-almost-totally) abstract usages, usually for associated organisations:

The school was built in 1963. / It's one of England's top schools.

My club is just round the corner. / I do not wish to be a member of any club that will accept me as a member.

The kennel collapsed. / We left Rex at the kennels for a week.

This is Red Rum's stable. / I recommend Piggott's Stables for your racehorses.

There is often a further metaphorical distancing possible:

Claude Monet is recognised as the leader of the Impressionist School.

[The] epoch-making Avro Canada Jetliner from the same stable as the CF-100 and the Arrow ...

It is not clear to me whether 'sumo stable' is generally held to cover the largely concrete sense of 'training area / facilities for sumo wrestlers' in addition to the obviously acceptable abstract sense seemingly corresponding to 'boxing club'.

At http://web-japan.org/kidsweb//virtual/sumo/sumo04.html is evidence suggesting that the more concrete sense is used:

Wrestlers wake up early in the morning and train hard in the hope of moving up the ranks. Mornings in a sumo stable begin at around 5:00 am. First, the unranked wrestlers begin their training. Each stable has a ring for practice.

(I would expect different phrasings if these usages of stable were intended to reference the wrestlers - eg Mornings for a sumo stable begin... .)

share|improve this answer

From not the OED proper, which is paywalled, but rather the free Oxford Dictionaries Online:

an organization or establishment training or producing a particular type of person or product: the player comes from the same stable as Agassi

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.