24

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:

  1. taking a stakehold in its future (here);
  2. interested parties should have a stakehold in conservation (here);
  3. a stakehold interest in education (here, though in this case it is possibly an adjective);
  4. a stakehold he shared with several other miners (here);
  5. the money was accordingly deposited in the hands of the defendant, as a stakehold (here);
  6. the whole idea is for us to get a stakehold in a significant number of small businesses (here);
  7. we will have people who have a stakehold in this Country (here);
  8. everybody in Mississippi knew it was a stakehold of beatniks and immorality. (here);
  9. to insure that K-12 education has a stakehold in the development... of the NREN (here);
  10. Maryam also acquired a stakehold of 60 per cent shares (here);
  11. to acquire a stakehold in a Japanese company (here);
  12. to compensate employees with a stakehold in the company (here);
  13. fortunately for those who have a stakehold in the Association (here);
  14. we are poised to have a stakehold in the PC market (here);
  15. they had a stakehold in it (here);
  16. those who had attained a stakehold in the state (here);
  17. recognition of a stakehold interest in the property (here);
  18. 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.);
  19. something to have a stakehold in if you own a big corporation (here);
  20. as a stakehold against depreciation (here);
  21. 5% of the value of the stakehold (here);
  22. the stakehold was held liable for paying over (here);
  23. belts and chains for sending men up from the stakehold, or down from aloft (here);
  24. a collective entitlement known as a "stakehold" (here);
  25. 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.

EDIT

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:

  1. 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
  2. So would giving people a stakehold in land and corporate ownership.
    Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology
  3. It's aimed at those with a stakehold in disability: family, friends, professionals and, rather importantly, disabled people themselves.
    BBC
  4. 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
  5. …to ensure that every community feels that they have a stakehold in their government.
    U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
  6. More than 150 people with a stakehold in the housing and construction industries came to the launch of Advance TECC.
    Invest Waltham Forest
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. EasiBridge is looking for external investors to take a stakehold in driving the considerable product portfolio to market.
    GOV.UK
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. I’ve got a stakehold in those kids out there too.
    Mickey Daughtry, retiring CFO of the Troy Board of Education, in troymessenger.com
  14. Anyone with a stakehold in the inquest can apply to be an ‘interested party’.
    Slater Gordon Lawyers
  • 7
    Bear in mind that Wall Street guys speak terrible English. It's the type of mistake one would expect from them. – Lambie Sep 6 '18 at 18:11
  • 1
    The obvious point of comparison would be sharehold as a noun, would it not? – Sven Yargs Sep 8 '18 at 9:32
  • 2
    I'm reasonably sure that a stakeholder has a stake that they hold, hence the name :-) – Richard Sep 8 '18 at 12:53
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because though many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. As you well know. As you say, in fact. // It does nicely exemplify the wording grey area. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 28 at 15:59
  • 1
    @Chappo I'd actually prefer it to stay open myself, but want to signal that a flood of "Is 'snakehold' an acceptable word?" copycat questions are/is not on. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 1 at 18:20
60

In most cases where it is used, stakehold is an error. I see multiple explanations for this word showing up in the examples you found. A few might be intentional, but most are clearly mistakes of one kind or another.

  1. As a back-formation from stakeholder, meaning essentially the same as stake in its sense of interest or wager. In this context, possibly also a malapropism for share.

    *Maryam also acquired a stakehold of 60 per cent shares.
    Maryam also acquired a stake of 60 per cent shares.
    Maryam also acquired a share [or shares] of 60 per cent.

    [seems relevant to 1–5, 7, 9–13, 15, 17–22, 24]

  2. As a malapropism from foothold when used figuratively in its sense of a secure position.

    *We are poised to have a stakehold in the PC market.
    We are poised to have a foothold in the PC market.

    [seems relevant to 6, 14, 16, 20]

  3. As a misspelling of stokehold, essentially a room deep within a steamship where coal is fed to the boiler.

    *belts and chains for sending men up from the stakehold
    belts and chains for sending men up from the stokehold

    [seems relevant to 23]

I would expect a good copy-editor to correct these, with the possible exception of 24, which was apparently used deliberately and defined in context.

  1. Your number 25 seems created for a literary purpose, meaning a hold (a shelter or keep) associated with a property claim (a stake in the sense used by prospectors), by analogy from words such as household, stronghold, and freehold.

Note that I do not mean to definitively impose an organizing system on your examples, just to show that they mostly arise from several kinds of confusion. It is certainly possible that some of your examples could fit in more than one category, or even that some were the result of several types of confusion all at once.

  • 6
    Great analysis that the uses in the OP are not all used to mean the same thing. I'd add that for some of these I think the word "stake" alone might be sufficient. Some seem to be saying "a firm hold in one's stake". "As a stakehold against" sounds very natural to me but Google doesn't seem to recognize it, although "as a stake against" is apparently more common. – Darren Ringer Sep 6 '18 at 19:29
  • 1
    For meaning 1, another likely replacement word could be holding - e.g. "Maryam also acquired a holding of 60 per cent shares." – Toby Speight Sep 6 '18 at 19:46
  • @TobySpeight That whole sentence doesn't make any sense. There's no such thing, as far as I know, as "60 per cent shares". You could hold 60 per cent of the shares of a company. – Kevin Sep 6 '18 at 20:02
  • @Kevin 1/60 cent shares would certainly be cheap. – Eric Sep 6 '18 at 23:11
  • 2
    @Kevin - You might also hold "a 60% share in the company". – Jeff Zeitlin Sep 7 '18 at 14:07
28

I suspect that stakehold is not a word because a stakeholder is one who holds a stake in something. Oxford Living Dictionaries describes it thusly:

stakeholder

NOUN

  1. (in gambling) an independent party with whom each of those who make a wager deposits the money or counters wagered.

  2. A person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.

Merriam-Webster says:

Definition of stakeholder

  1. a person entrusted with the stakes of bettors
  2. one that has a stake in an enterprise
  3. one who is involved in or affected by a course of action

So the noun is stake, not stakehold.

I will note that stakehold is not like the word foothold in that a foot holds onto a foothold; a stake (in this context) can't hold on to something but instead is being held.

foothold

NOUN

  1. A place where a person's foot can be lodged to support them securely, especially while climbing.

    1.1 [usually in singular] A secure position from which further progress may be made.

    ‘the company is attempting to gain a foothold in the Russian market’

(from the Oxford Living Dictionaries)

Interestingly, it seems that stronghold does not follow the foothold pattern but instead comes from an archaic definition of hold as a noun:

hold

NOUN

  1. archaic A fortress.

(from the Oxford Living Dictionaries)

So stronghold seems to just be a beefed up version of a hold:

stronghold

NOUN

  1. A place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack.

    ‘their mountain strongholds fell to enemy attack’

  2. A place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld.

    ‘a Labour stronghold’

(from the Oxford Living Dictionaries)


Update:

Although far from a definitive source, the website Anagrammer.com says:

The answer STAKEHOLD has 0 possible clues in existing crosswords. The word STAKEHOLD is NOT valid in any word game. See additional results below.

  • 1
    1. So all 25 examples of usage I found are simply wrong? 2. What about the cases like 23, which do not seem to mean stake? (Also 4, 8, 22, 24, and 25?) – linguisticturn Sep 6 '18 at 17:35
  • 6
    Errors occur all the time in print for many, many reasons. Specifically... #4 is a guide to a fantasy world so it's possible that stakehold has a meaning in that world. #8 appears to be the transcription of testimony, so it seems possible that someone used stakehold when they meant stronghold. #22 -- it seems clear the meaning is stakeholder #23 -- could be another mistake and the intended word was stronghold. – Roger Sinasohn Sep 6 '18 at 18:04
  • 3
    This is correct: stakes are acquired by stakeholder is a word; stakehold is not correct in modern parlance in finance and economics. Internet "stuff" has to be taken with many grains of salt. Some is ignorance and some is lack of editing. But, this answer is right on. – Lambie Sep 6 '18 at 18:06
  • 1
    #24 appears to be cut off; I couldn't get to the full quote. Given that stakehold is preceded by a quote but Google shows no terminating quote, I suspect the full word may not be just stakehold. #25 is another quote from the guide to Pern (the land where Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders series takes place) so it could be that Ms. McCaffrey is misusing stakehold or that she has defined it as an actual thing in her world. – Roger Sinasohn Sep 6 '18 at 18:07
  • 1
    Even google asks, did you mean stakeholder? – Lambie Sep 6 '18 at 18:17
5

That doesn’t sound like standard written English to me. The accepted word would be stake.

4

We've got a couple of good answers on where it came from, but your main question appears to be "Is stakehold an acceptable word?"

It depends on your audience really. When I saw the title of your question I thought "that's not a word is it? Does he mean stakeholding?", and then I read your many many examples and went "of course it's a word, it turns out it only looks weird to me without the indefinite article before it. I wonder why it's not in dictionaries". Then I read the answers and realised why not! I also realised that "stakeholding" isn't in most dictionaries either...

English as a language is fluid. New words are coined, and become popular, all the time. That the etymology of "stakehold" means it shouldn't really be used doesn't matter. The etymology of "awful" is "something that is so astounding it fills you full of awe", yet we still use it to mean "really, really bad" and no one minds.

So, in speech and informal writing I think it'd be fine to use. Your research has pulled up plenty of examples to show that it isn't unusual, and it's easily understood. But for formal writing you may want to steer away from it still, given that plenty of wordy people on here don't recognise it as a word. Yet.

  • New words are coined and some things are plain silly. To hold a stake, to have a stake doesn't end up as stakehold. – Lambie Sep 7 '18 at 16:26
  • 1
    While the other answers are all useful, yours is the only one that really engages with what I was trying to ask! Unfortunately I don't think I can accept it, for the simple reason that it turned out to be what I suspected any such answer would have to be: (mostly) a personal opinion. The fault is not yours, but mine; this is why I said that, in this instance, I actually welcome personal opinions as answers, and which is why I feared my question might ultimately be off topic. But it looks like this time around, the site mods will let me get away with it... :) – linguisticturn Sep 10 '18 at 17:22
2

The construction you are wondering about does exist with freehold[er], describing a title of ownership of land or the "real estate", respectively the title holder. freehold probably exists because the "real estate" (the title, later land proper) is more substantial than an abstract "stake". A similar situation exists with leasehold[er] or household[er]. Last not least hold[er] proper (hold in the sense of a stronghold, grip or custody) is an example.1 That may be the reason why "stakehold" does not sound absurdly wrong.

But to express the occupation of a stakeholder one would just split the term into the noun and the verb it is composed of.2

That's the case with many words describing a predicate/object relationship:

  • cabdriver: he's driving his cab, not has or does a cabdrive tonight;
  • caregiver
  • firefighter (a firefight exists but is something different)
  • toolmaker

etc.

But this is not true for all such words. Sometimes the meaning of the split phrase isn't just right (zookeeper as opposed to beekeeper). If one side is not a common word on its own they cannot be split that way (geographer).


1One should think that similar -keep[er] constructions exist but apparently keep[er] proper is the only one (there is e.g. no beekeep, and barkeep is just colloquial for barkeeper).

2In German it is possible — if bad style especially in stilted academic language — to construct a compound equivalent to "stakehold" and combine it with an unspecific verb like machen, haben oder sein: er machte eine Lautäußerung (he uttered a sound) er nahm eine Beweisaufnahme vor (he collected evidence) etc.

2

TL:DR; No. What stakeholders have are called "stakes."

According to google, the definition of stakeholder in this case is:

a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of stakes is:

a share in something, esp. a financial share in a business, or an emotional investment in something:

So stakeholders hold stakes. It's used in a sentence as follows:

The stakeholders felt the high stakes were acceptable.
The shareholders agreed to stake the company's future in building Android applications and move away from Linux.

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