One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Flammable hydrocarbon jelly supplied in cans for use as fuel for cooking stoves or chafing dishes.
- ‘I bought some Sterno and some canned dog food, matches, instant coffee… where are we going with this?’
- ‘Of course my hopes that this was the end to the whole business were dashed when E. stashed me in a plywood hunting blind with a can of Sterno and some matches and said he'd be back when he heard me shoot.’
- ‘Fondue pots are made to sit over a little can of fuel called Sterno.’
- ‘When I was in the Cavalry I always stashed a little Sterno in the troop carrier, but I forgot it this time.’
- ‘He plunked me down in a blind on an icy winter day with a lit can of Sterno.’
Early 20th century: from the name of Sternau and Co., New York, + -o.
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