I fear this question may turn out to be off-topic, because it may come down to personal opinion. If so, my apologies, although I'd be interested to hear the opinions of members of this community.
On the one hand, no major dictionary lists stakehold as a word. This includes:
1. OED; 2. M-W; 3. Oxford (autocorrects to stakeholding); 4. American Heritage; 5. Collins; 6. Macmillan; 7. Cambridge; 8. Wiktionary; 9. Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th ed. (the site searches that dictionary, as can be seen e.g. here); 10. Wordsmyth; 11. Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913 ed.; 12. dictionary.com; 13. vocabulary.com; 14. Wordnik; 15. Infoplease; 16. OPTED; and 17. Free Dictionary.
On the other hand, a search in google books shows that stakehold, used as a noun, does appear in published literature. The number and context of its appearances is such that, to me, it seems unlikely that all of these appearances are mistakes. In other words, it seems to me that, in many cases, the word was used purposefully by very literate writers. Some examples:
- taking a stakehold in its future (here);
- interested parties should have a stakehold in conservation (here);
- a stakehold interest in education (here, though in this case it is possibly an adjective);
- a stakehold he shared with several other miners (here);
- the money was accordingly deposited in the hands of the defendant, as a stakehold (here);
- the whole idea is for us to get a stakehold in a significant number of small businesses (here);
- we will have people who have a stakehold in this Country (here);
- everybody in Mississippi knew it was a stakehold of beatniks and immorality. (here);
- to insure that K-12 education has a stakehold in the development... of the NREN (here);
- Maryam also acquired a stakehold of 60 per cent shares (here);
- to acquire a stakehold in a Japanese company (here);
- to compensate employees with a stakehold in the company (here);
- fortunately for those who have a stakehold in the Association (here);
- we are poised to have a stakehold in the PC market (here);
- they had a stakehold in it (here);
- those who had attained a stakehold in the state (here);
- recognition of a stakehold interest in the property (here);
- provide a stakehold in the assessment process (here. This is from the 2009 ed.; interestingly, as one can see in the link, stakehold was changed to stake in the 2010 ed.);
- something to have a stakehold in if you own a big corporation (here);
- as a stakehold against depreciation (here);
- 5% of the value of the stakehold (here);
- the stakehold was held liable for paying over (here);
- belts and chains for sending men up from the stakehold, or down from aloft (here);
- a collective entitlement known as a "stakehold" (here);
- upriver from it was Cambridge-on-Jordan, the stakehold of the chief legist (here);
In most cases above, one could replace stakehold by the dictionary-listed word stake (see esp. 18.). But in other cases, e.g. 23, the word means something different.
So, my question: should the usage of stakehold as a noun be considered acceptable in (a) formal writing? (b) informal writing and speech?
Obviously, this is a special case of a more general question of just how widespread should a word become before it becomes acceptable. This general question is likely impossible to answer; nevertheless, the particular case at hand might be more tractable.
One type of usage that seems particularly prevalent is to have a stakehold in something.
True, the writers/speakers could (should?) have simply said to have a stake in something. True, none of the dictionaries recognize stakehold in this meaning. True, its etymology is probably that of a faulty back-formation, or a malapropism, or some other kind of mistake. But none of these considerations come anywhere near to being decisive arguments against something being a 'legitimate' word. Many now-legitimate words started off as isolated mistakes. But gradually, perhaps because it was a natural mistake to make, their usage spread, and eventually the dictinaries 'recognized' them as legitimate. But remember that, in English, the inclusion of a word in the dictionaries is not what makes a word legitimate. It is the other way around: it is because the word has become widespread enough and accepted by enough speakers as legitimate that the dictionaries finally begin to include it. So for every new word, there is a span of time during which it is a legitimate word even though the dictionaries haven't included it yet. (Of course, being a legitimate word is a vague concept; a word can be more or less legitimate.) One way to phrase my question is whether to have a stakehold in something is in this intermediate stage: widely accepted and 'legitimate', but not yet recognized by dictionaries as such.
You can also think of my question this way: if you think that the phrase to have a stakehold in something does not belong to Standard English, how prevalent would it have to become for you to change your mind? What would it take, what's the threshold?
Here are more examples, from all walks of life and both sides of the Atlantic:
- Even if a better writer were to appear — one who, unlike Knopper, appreciated Jackson’s artistry and desired understanding more than a stakehold in a profitable mythology — a “definitive” biography would still be impossible.
Los Angeles Review of Books
- So would giving people a stakehold in land and corporate ownership.
Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology
- It's aimed at those with a stakehold in disability: family, friends, professionals and, rather importantly, disabled people themselves.
- APSA is also proud to be part of the greater community of organizations with a stakehold in improving the lives of children.
The American Pediatric Surgical Association
- …to ensure that every community feels that they have a stakehold in their government.
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
- More than 150 people with a stakehold in the housing and construction industries came to the launch of Advance TECC.
Invest Waltham Forest
- This should be of urgent interest to anyone who has a stakehold in engaging all children in literacy.
Fen Coles, co-director of Letterbox Library, in a publication by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education
- This has still brought positive interest in the City of London from a number of overseas buyers wanting a stakehold in what we believe is an ever-appealing investment zone.
Lesley Males, Head of Research at real estate research company Datscha, in City A.M.
- I’m talking about how your grandma, who may not be the best in the kitchen, finally has a stakehold in Thanksgiving and somehow leaves your stomach still growling afterwards.
Her Campus at University of Delware
- EasiBridge is looking for external investors to take a stakehold in driving the considerable product portfolio to market.
- Being able to use this act to bring together the interested parties that had a stakehold in these canyons.
Steve Lentz, owner of Far and Away Adventures, in National Parks Traveler
- This mission-driven strategy is even more important in today’s market of expansive neighborhood gentrification where long-term residents with a stakehold in the community can be displaced.
Bill Whitman, Partner at Somerset Development Company, in citybizlist
- I’ve got a stakehold in those kids out there too.
Mickey Daughtry, retiring CFO of the Troy Board of Education, in troymessenger.com
- Anyone with a stakehold in the inquest can apply to be an ‘interested party’.
Slater Gordon Lawyers