Definition of stack in English:



  • 1A pile of objects, typically one that is neatly arranged.

    ‘a stack of boxes’
    • ‘Do you have a stack of books piled beside your bed that you really are going to read?’
    • ‘Deia's stepmom emerged underneath the staircase with a stack of neatly folded clothes and shot Vaius a look of dislike and poisonous curiosity.’
    • ‘Groaning and pushing myself up, I shuffled over to my bathroom, almost tripping on a stack of books piled near my bathroom door.’
    • ‘She greeted her brother, as he finally walked over to the car, a stack of books piled up to his chin.’
    • ‘‘Come in,’ she called absently, slaving over a stack of papers neatly arranged on her desk.’
    • ‘Neither the pile of work related e-mails in my inbox nor the stack of paperwork on my desk can put a dent in my enthusiasm.’
    • ‘Vincent moved silently into a deep shadow on the other side of the room, going behind a stack of crates piled in the middle of the floor.’
    • ‘Her bed had a whole stack of clothing piled up and it was getting higher.’
    • ‘Sheriff Vasey was sat at his desk, lines of worry incised into his face as he tried to ignore the storm and concentrate on the stack of paperwork piled up in front of him.’
    • ‘The man heaved as he piled the stack of six books onto Roy's already dusty lap.’
    • ‘A stack of kindling was piled on the floor nearby and he tossed some in, quickly lighting a fire.’
    • ‘At other times, her mother lay in bed for days, not bothering to get dressed, reading from a stack of books piled on her bedside table.’
    • ‘‘These should be your size,’ she handed him a stack of neatly folded clothes.’
    • ‘He grabbed a nearby stack of bandages and piled on one after the other until he felt there was enough to soak up the blood.’
    • ‘Most amazing of all, there was a stack of gifts piled on the chair in the corner.’
    • ‘It was then that her hand slid across what sounded like a stack of neatly clumped paper.’
    • ‘She opened her mouth to say something, but Valora Adora bustled back into the room with a small stack of neatly folded colorful clothing.’
    • ‘I climbed up a stack of old crates arranged haphazardly behind the warehouse.’
    • ‘Emanuelle frowned as she traced her fingers down the stack of folders neatly piled inside.’
    • ‘I got out my small stack of exams from my summer class and, looking up once in a while to watch the people pass by, I graded question 1.’
    heap, pile, mound, mountain, pyramid, mass, store, stockpile, hoard, load, tower, drift, clamp, hack
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    1. 1.1a stack of/stacks ofinformal A large quantity of something.
      ‘there's stacks of work for me now’
      • ‘There will be some people who have stacks of confidence and some who have none.’
      • ‘Yet a growing stack of academic research this year suggests that playing Doom or Half-Life can sharpen your physical reactions and improve your social life.’
      • ‘The next type of beggars were some people walking around with stacks of CDs in their hands on the Walk of Fame.’
      • ‘There are stacks of people who have e-mailed me or commented over the last year or so who I would love to meet in the flesh.’
      • ‘It seems that absence does make the heart grow fonder for on our return, what do we find but stacks of great emails from you.’
      • ‘Kearsley and Horwich piled up a stack of runs in an entertaining draw.’
      • ‘The first track opens with what might be a guitar solo filtered through massive stacks of electronics as insect-like squeals pour out of the speakers.’
      • ‘Before it, a desk with stacks of waiting paperwork held vigil, its dark wood surface holding old ink stains.’
      • ‘Stalin closed the show for the three nights and sang four of his classics from his stack of hits.’
      • ‘I still have plenty to do, and a stack of emails that are waiting for replies, but they will have to wait until later in the week.’
      • ‘Plus, loggers get to eat stacks of pancakes every day.’
      a great deal, a lot, a great amount, a large amount, a large quantity, quantities, plenty, abundance, superabundance, plethora, cornucopia, a wealth, profusion, a mountain, reams
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    2. 1.2 A rectangular or cylindrical pile of hay or straw or of grain in sheaf.
      • ‘We used to build stacks mainly in the stackyard by the farm buildings but occasionally we built some in the field.’
      • ‘I finished with the dirty hay and began piling clean hay from a stack on the far wall, leaving the wheelbarrow for another time.’
      • ‘From another hole came the straw that was again piled into a stack.’
      • ‘Our only pickup truck was used to operate the overshot stacker that piled the hay into stacks.’
      haystack, rick, hayrick, stook, mow, haymow, barleymow
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    3. 1.3 A vertical arrangement of hi-fi or guitar amplification equipment.
      • ‘Top-end CPUs do note readily make for a slimline, quiet-running unit to sit within a hi-fi stack.’
      • ‘The drums were coming through this huge amplifier stack and it was louder than onstage.’
      • ‘The hearing of both Ozzy Osbourne and The Who guitarist Peter Townshend was damaged by prolonged exposure to the high wattage blare from stacks of amplifiers.’
      • ‘A new venue meant yet another sound-check to make sure that the reassembled stacks of amplifiers and speakers had been matched to the concert hall's acoustics.’
    4. 1.4 A number of aircraft flying in circles at different altitudes around the same point while waiting for permission to land at an airport.
      • ‘Beaten-up airplanes will always be at the bottom of the stack.’
      • ‘The 10 aircraft made an impressive sight as they hovered in a stack above HMAS Albatross.’
      • ‘They thought the stacks of green aircraft belonged to Army fliers.’
      • ‘We lost our situational awareness of the other aircraft in the overhead stack.’
      • ‘Being in the dominant position, on top of the stack in the start circle, is a strong tactical advantage.’
    5. 1.5 A pyramidal group of rifles.
      • ‘Coronach if you get 9 more rifles you could set up a table in your living room where each leg is a rifle stack.’
      • ‘I recall M/Sgt Widner, a high school ROTC instructor, demonstrating that this arrangement, when properly done on a grass parade field, was strong enough that a soldier could stand (one legged) on the stack.’
      • ‘This won't be as sturdy as a stack made by three M1s or three '03s.’
    6. 1.6the stacks Units of shelving in part of a library normally closed to the public, used to store books compactly.
      ‘the demand for items from the stacks’
      as modifier ‘the new premises provided a reading room and a stack room’
      • ‘This is the version that will go into print and be found in the stacks at the library.’
      • ‘Some of them were friendly and even allowed the use of dollies to transport the books from the stacks to the check-out desk.’
      • ‘The librarian sped away along the stacks of books.’
      • ‘Nearly every day I'm at the library, searching the stacks.’
      • ‘For today much, perhaps most, of a student's search for information has moved out of the stacks and into dorm rooms and studies, via the Internet.’
      • ‘Perhaps it took that long to declare the book lost from the stacks of the Geneva Public Library District.’
      • ‘Neither outside nor inside the library did I see any sign of where one might deposit one's weapon before browsing in the stacks or settling into the periodicals room.’
      • ‘Books will be fetched by Library staff from the stacks downstairs, where the collection will be housed in suitable conditions of security, temperature and humidity.’
      • ‘They're the smell of yellowed book pages in the stacks of an abandoned library.’
      • ‘Sneak the book back into the stacks and tell them they screwed up because you returned it long ago, or else hold onto it until the next amnesty period.’
      • ‘I used to go to UCSD's Central Library and browse the stacks, especially the economics section.’
      • ‘People will want to live in a coffee shop, talking to people about books, not in the stacks at the library or the warehouse at Amazon.’
    7. 1.7Computing A set of storage locations which store data in such a way that the most recently stored item is the first to be retrieved.
      • ‘Within the protocol stack, SSL / TLS is situated underneath the application layer.’
      • ‘Execshield also randomizes the memory address of a program stack to make it harder for malicious code to know where to gain entry into the program.’
      • ‘The gateway holds the hardware interfaces and software protocol stacks to get all the various technologies talking nicely to one another.’
      • ‘The search engines are virtual librarians who take your order and retrieve documents from the stacks in less time than it takes your browser to load the next page.’
      • ‘By implementing VI, applications can communicate with each other directly, bypassing the operating system and protocol stacks.’
  • 2A chimney, especially one on a factory, or a vertical exhaust pipe on a vehicle.

    • ‘In addition, windows surrounding the cab increase visibility, and exhaust stacks are in line with the cab post, lending to a quieter engine.’
    • ‘For night flying, engineers added special flame-suppressing exhaust stacks to it to prevent night blindness in crew members.’
    • ‘We would now suggest it is best if we totally by-pass the existing outlets and connect our own outlets directly into the pipe stacks.’
    • ‘There is no release of gases into the atmosphere except through the exhaust stack.’
    • ‘My brother and I were flying one day when the engine suddenly lost 60 percent of its power and heavy black smoke started pouring from the exhaust stacks.’
    • ‘Cameron hesitated as he took in the roof, his vision blocked by other staircase entries, chimneys and vent stacks.’
    • ‘Of course the plating process is not the only finishing process these truck exhaust stacks go through.’
    • ‘She blew a series of smoke rings out, because she knew that it amused me, stretching her head into the air like her neck was a stack and her lips the chimney rim.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, toxic metals escape out the incinerator's smoke stack into the atmosphere.’
    • ‘Because the fare burns quickly at a high temperature, it also burns cleanly, with virtually no emissions up the stack.’
    • ‘Between the stack and the vertical wall there are many large holes or caves full of groupers.’
    • ‘The noise from the multiple exhaust stacks is spectacular and very satisfying.’
    • ‘Exhaust stacks and courtyards increase access to air movement and daylight.’
    • ‘He hides on his roof behind a stack of chimneys until the people finally disperse.’
    • ‘On we drove past the CJ Rance timber mill where life stood still on this holiday long weekend, save for blue smoke seeping from wood-curing stacks.’
    • ‘A downdraft over the stack is causing the sewer gas to be more noticeable.’
    • ‘Police can drown the engine of a bigger ship by firing a water cannon into its exhaust stacks.’
    • ‘One exhaust stack will be virtually right next door to the Gabba.’
    • ‘Also effective was a tall stack exhaust port which expels the fumes above the boat where they can more quickly dissipate in the air.’
    • ‘The atrium lobby acts as a stack, with horizontal vents at floor and ceiling.’
    chimney, factory chimney, chimney stack, smokestack, funnel, exhaust pipe
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    1. 2.1British A column of rock standing in the sea, remaining after erosion of cliffs.
      • ‘A team of scientists investigating ruins atop a remote sea stack in the Western Isles this summer have been using a Troylean sling to get to the remains of a medieval castle.’
      • ‘The climb to the top of the 450 ft sea stack was to raise money and awareness of the plight facing patients with kidney problems.’
      • ‘The sandstone cliff ledges and stacks provide suitable nesting and roosting areas for some species, while three of the four main islands in the area are ideal breeding grounds for large gulls.’
      • ‘The climbing partner of a man who fell to his death in Orkney last week has told The Orcadian how a last-minute decision to tackle a 12-metre stack ended in tragedy.’
      • ‘The Old Man of Stoer comes into view shortly after this, and you follow the cliff edge round to the right and then down steeply to look over the sea stack.’
      • ‘This remote corner of Washington's Olympic Peninsula is upholstered with deep forests of cedar, spruce and fir looking over rock cliffs, sea stacks and wave-carved caves to the open Pacific Ocean.’
      • ‘The other arch stands close by - a Cyclopean gateway through a tall and slim sea stack.’
      • ‘The sea stack of Am Buachaille stands to the south end of the bay although it is best viewed from the middle or the northern end.’
      • ‘He, along with Graeme Nicol and the lyric mountain churl Tom Patey (who died in 1970 falling off a sea stack called The Maiden), did the first ascent of Ben Nevis's Zero Gully, then one of the hardest ice climbs in the world, in 1957.’
      • ‘Looking south you see the 220 ft sea stack, sentinel of the beach, Am Buachaille - the herdsman - which was first climbed in 1967.’
      • ‘I finished my pint in the ship's bar and went to the starboard viewing rail to watch the sunlight reflecting off that famous sea stack, the Old Man Of Hoy.’
      • ‘Additional features include a private island - a small sea stack known locally as The Stag - and a 24 square metre self-contained Swiss chalet in the back garden, which features two bedrooms, a living area with kitchenette and a shower room.’
      pillar, column
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  • 3British A measure for a pile of wood of 108 cu. ft (3.06 cubic metres).

    • ‘The actual wood contained in a 4' x 4' x 8' stack is approximately 90 cubic feet.’
    • ‘Pulpwood and firewood are usually measured by the cord, which is a stack of roundwood 4' x 4' x 8'.’


[with object]
  • 1Arrange (a number of things) in a pile, typically a neat one.

    ‘the books had been stacked up in three piles’
    ‘she stood up, beginning to stack the plates’
    • ‘Inside, the chairs are stacked in three neat piles on the porch.’
    • ‘We sat at the big table and watched my mum count the coins, stacking it all into neat piles by denomination.’
    • ‘During the day these pillows are stacked in a pile and the room is converted into a place for sitting and eating.’
    • ‘Spread the manure thinly outdoors so that fly eggs and larvae can be killed by drying, or stack the manure and cover with black plastic.’
    • ‘More money than even I had seen in my lifetime was stacked in piles around the linoleum floor.’
    • ‘Ian wandered back into the cave and began sorting what was left into packsack-sized piles, stacking them by the mouth of the cave.’
    • ‘A series of photograph of two toddlers earnestly stacking a pile of blocks only to knock them back down will be accompanied by this dialogue.’
    • ‘I'd stack hatboxes covered in floral-print paper in a corner.’
    • ‘A desk spanned the width of the room, and there were files folders and CDs stacked in neat piles on the desk, and a computer built into it.’
    • ‘The Baron was in the Great Hall, counting coins and stacking them in piles.’
    • ‘Here and there on the curb, other entrepreneurs hack shoe soles out of used tires and stack the soles in neat bundles for resale.’
    • ‘The books that couldn't fit on the shelves were stacked in neat piles nearby.’
    • ‘While I rinse plates and stack them in the dishwasher, I decide to call Renee to see what she thinks.’
    • ‘As the men progress to the next tree, a woman gathers up the curved strips of cork and stacks them into a pile.’
    • ‘She picked up the dishcloth and started to wipe the plates, stacking them in neat piles of 5.’
    • ‘High ceilings provide the clear height to stack a large number of equipment racks and to accommodate overhead services.’
    • ‘Karl finally had five neat piles of photos stacked.’
    • ‘Leafy veggies which are not sold are stacked into vegetating piles which emanate a stink and consequently create health hazards for denizens.’
    • ‘The wise magician then ordered the young prince to spend the day lugging and stacking a pile of huge logs, menial labor unbefitting royalty.’
    • ‘The banker can stack the appropriate number of chips on top of the puck to indicate how many consecutive wins he has.’
    heap, heap up, pile, pile up, make a heap of, make a pile of, make a stack of
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    1. 1.1 Fill or cover (a place or surface) with stacks of things.
      ‘he spent most of the time stacking shelves’
      • ‘My bravado from earlier dwindled as he nodded, smiled again, and continued stacking the shelves.’
      • ‘And, very definitely, I love to let my eyes swerve over those endless rows of covers stacked upon shelves.’
      • ‘Some of the storage areas are stacked with hundreds of baskets that were soaked in poison years ago because at the time it was the only way to protect them from bug infestation.’
      • ‘The bath is stacked with bottles of shampoo, conditioners and various beauty-enhancing lotions and potions.’
      • ‘Every surface is stacked with knick-knacks; every chair piled with quilts.’
      • ‘The only table that can fit into the tight living room is stacked with books and papers.’
      • ‘As it turns out the ‘poor old man’ picks up the internal trolley used for stacking the shelves and tries to claim the missing £1.’
      • ‘Every housewife stacking her shelves should be proud to have her tins of beans stamped with a such a badge of high distinction.’
      • ‘The place was stacked with empty boxes and cages to carry them around.’
      • ‘His lack of selectivity only stacks the shelves higher.’
      • ‘If you want a knot garden in your own space, stack the central spaces in the middle of your evergreen outline now with as many herbaceous perennials as you can.’
      • ‘Then one day while I was stacking the shelves, I collapsed.’
      • ‘Most people would just shrug and go get a job stacking shelves in Tescos.’
      • ‘When I was 15, I got a job stacking shelves in Dunnes Stores.’
      • ‘A great shelf which covered that whole wall was stacked with age old books!’
      • ‘This time he stood with his back to them continuing to stack the shelves with more force than necessary.’
      • ‘Compared to Watkins, Atlantis is a bit grubby and poorly lit and the place is stacked with arcane junk.’
      • ‘Journal pages have to be filled, and library shelves have to be stacked with books.’
      • ‘Her shelves are stacked with cookbooks and clippings, her drawers filled with gadgets and graters.’
      • ‘Cabinets around the room were stacked with china dishes.’
      load, fill, fill up, lade, pack, charge, stuff, cram
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    2. 1.2 Cause (an aircraft) to fly in circles while waiting for permission to land at an airport.
      ‘I hope we aren't stacked for hours over Kennedy’
      • ‘Lines had to be shared with people dialling up, ringing off and basically stacking like planes outside Heathrow airport.’
      • ‘And you can see that the controllers are just stacking them up all along the East Coast here and then sending them around.’
      • ‘The claimant soon became aware of the noise from aircraft stacking over Mayfield.’
  • 2Shuffle or arrange (a pack of cards) dishonestly so as to gain an unfair advantage.

    ‘I know the cards are stacked’
    figurative ‘Texas's capital punishment law stacks the deck in favour of death over prison’
    • ‘But Bremer starts with the cards seemingly stacked against him.’
    • ‘The quarterbacks get paid the most money because they must rally the troops in the game's critical moments when the cards are stacked against them.’
    • ‘Fate was definitely stacking the cards against me.’
    • ‘I watch it played on TV all the time, I know when cards were stacked.’
    • ‘On the face of it, the cards seem stacked against him.’
    • ‘The question brings me back to an issue that I promised to address: the possibility that Mitch was stacking the cards a bit when he didn't clarify how his teacher/hero needed to be needed.’
    • ‘Yes, some people are born with the deck stacked against them.’
    • ‘When he and his team took office on May 20 last year, the cards were already stacked against them.’
    • ‘She felt like the cards where stacked against her.’
    • ‘When Bernie falls in love, the chips in his life begin to fall into place, just as cards begin to get stacked against Shelly and his old-school values.’
    • ‘At three-quarter time the Eagles were still down 8.9 to 12.4, and the cards still seemed stacked Westies' way.’
    • ‘You might think that lawyers acting in a Family Court dispute up against a self-represented litigant might be pleased, after all the cards are stacked in their favour.’
    • ‘The cards are stacked against detainees in other ways too.’
    • ‘Or are the cards always stacked in favour of one group?’
    • ‘But another source said the cards were not all stacked in Regent's favour, as it needed to close a deal in order to strengthen its pubs portfolio beyond Walkabout bars.’
    • ‘The winemaker is constantly battling to create a bottle of wine that, from the outset, has the deck stacked against it.’
    • ‘I believed that Meg and Sarah were in real danger at the beginning; by the second half of the movie, I felt that the cards were stacked so unfavorably against the robbers so as to negate the danger.’
    • ‘Life is just too hard, impossible even, and the cards have been totally stacked against me for years.’
    • ‘But then again, the deck is completely stacked against him.’
    • ‘Your focus on ‘yields’ of individual commodities, rather than total output, unfairly stacks the deck by ignoring a large measure of what smaller farms produce.’
    1. 2.1be stacked against/in favour of Used to refer to a situation which is such that an unfavourable or a favourable outcome is overwhelmingly likely.
      ‘the odds were stacked against Fiji in the World Cup’
      • ‘When you consider how the odds were stacked against us it was a fantastic display and result.’
      • ‘The odds were stacked against the 17-year-old Toowoomba student from the start, but he triumphed anyway.’
      • ‘Little Maisy and Ruby Jolly have been dubbed the ‘Miracle Twins’ after the odds were stacked against their survival.’
      • ‘While the odds were stacked against them, the trio were able to establish contact with Wellington-based Maritime Radio which relayed their plight to Bay of Plenty Coastguard.’
      • ‘Frye's turnout surprised San Diego voters partly because, from a practical standpoint, the odds were stacked against her.’
      • ‘Add in that he was out of action for a couple of months earlier this year with a knee injury and it's clear the odds were stacked against a comeback.’
      • ‘The odds were stacked against them but there was no lack of self-belief from the Tigers, who subjected the Wakefield line to an onslaught.’
      • ‘Wolff Reik, cloning expert at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, said even if the woman became pregnant the odds were stacked against the baby.’
      • ‘Despite all the odds being stacked against them, Mandi and David are determined to be together.’
      • ‘The visitors were short their best two players so the odds were stacked against them before the ball was thrown in.’
  • 3no object (in snowboarding) fall over.

    • ‘Then on his very first session on a his brand-new recently arrived real deal snowboard, he stacked it and broke both legs just below the knee, ouch.’
    • ‘The group I ride with all got a shock last year when our friend stacked it, came down on his head and spent the next 6 months in hospital.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • stack up

    • 1Form or cause to form a large quantity; build up.

      ‘cars stack up behind every bus’
      • ‘It's not even the rainy season - or what we used to qualify as the rainy season, as if we knew anything about it in the first place - but the storms are stacked up out over the Pacific like pool balls on a billiard table and not a pocket in sight.’
      • ‘Straight away, after a cup of tea and an initial unpacking operation, stacking the washer up with a week's linen, he was off out to cut the grass.’
      • ‘So I guess it counts for something then; it may not help stack the funds up in the bank account but at least the pressure can come off.’
      • ‘Almost 1,000 people reported symptoms, and although no one died, every one of the 125 beds in the town's only hospital was filled, and patients were stacked up in the corridors.’
      • ‘When projects fall behind schedule, it seems to be because these particular employees are stacked up with work and can't adhere to the project schedule.’
      • ‘In times of extreme deadline crisis, when deadlines are stacked up all around the office like unexploded ordinance, lack of attention to personal hygiene is a professional survival mechanism.’
      • ‘Most of these devices have large amounts of system memory, so multiple tasks can be stacked up at once, and their big hard disks (usually around the 20GB mark) make storing contact information a simple business.’
    • 2Measure up; compare.

      ‘our rural schools stack up well against their urban counterparts’
      • ‘It allows schools to receive comparison and external reviews to see how the institutions stack up, Blood says.’
      • ‘If funding is how the relative merits of departments and faculties were judged, then the humanities and social sciences stacked up poorly indeed compared to the practical disciplines.’
      • ‘I wonder how other state champs would stack up if measured the same way!’
      • ‘How does your pay stack up… when compared to other facility professionals?’
      • ‘How does the Federal Reserve System stack up in comparison with other central banks?’
      • ‘And how do they stack up compared to the rest of us on health care expenditures?’
      • ‘And some say our nightlife doesn't stack up when compared to Leeds.’
      • ‘Wade is only one season into his tour of duty, but he is stacking up well in comparison to his predecessors.’
      • ‘A look at how 1995 compares with other seasons shows how it stacks up against 1933 and other busy years.’
      • ‘Find out how your income stacks up compared to the rest of the world.’
      1. 2.1usually with negativeMake sense.
        ‘to blame the debacle on the antics of a rogue trader is not credible—it doesn't stack up’
        • ‘Sorry but what you said just doesn't stack up with the odds.’
        • ‘Any way you look at it, the statement just doesn't stack up.’


Middle English: from Old Norse stakkr ‘haystack’, of Germanic origin.