The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Stem \Stem\ (st[e^]m), n. [AS. stemn, stefn, staefn; akin to OS.
stamn the stem of a ship, D. stam stem, steven stem of a
ship, G. stamm stem, steven stem of a ship, Icel. stafn,
stamn, stem of a ship, stofn, stomn, stem, Sw. stam a tree
trunk, Dan. stamme. Cf. Staff, Stand.]
1. The principal body of a tree, shrub, or plant, of any
kind; the main stock; the part which supports the branches
or the head or top.
After they are shot up thirty feet in length, they
spread a very large top, having no bough nor twig in
the trunk or the stem. --Sir W.
The lowering spring, with lavish rain,
Beats down the slender stem and breaded grain.
2. A little branch which connects a fruit, flower, or leaf
with a main branch; a peduncle, pedicel, or petiole; as,
the stem of an apple or a cherry.
3. The stock of a family; a race or generation of
progenitors. "All that are of noble stem." --Milton.
While I do pray, learn here thy stem
And true descent. --Herbert.
4. A branch of a family.
This is a stem
Of that victorious stock. --Shak.
5. (Naut.) A curved piece of timber to which the two sides of
a ship are united at the fore end. The lower end of it is
scarfed to the keel, and the bowsprit rests upon its upper
end. Hence, the forward part of a vessel; the bow.
6. Fig.: An advanced or leading position; the lookout.
Wolsey sat at the stem more than twenty years.
7. Anything resembling a stem or stalk; as, the stem of a
tobacco pipe; the stem of a watch case, or that part to
which the ring, by which it is suspended, is attached.
8. (Bot.) That part of a plant which bears leaves, or
rudiments of leaves, whether rising above ground or wholly
(a) The entire central axis of a feather.
(b) The basal portion of the body of one of the
Pennatulacea, or of a gorgonian.
10. (Mus.) The short perpendicular line added to the body of
a note; the tail of a crotchet, quaver, semiquaver, etc.
11. (Gram.) The part of an inflected word which remains
unchanged (except by euphonic variations) throughout a
given inflection; theme; base.
From stem to stern (Naut.), from one end of the ship to the
other, or through the whole length.
Stem leaf (Bot.), a leaf growing from the stem of a plant,
as contrasted with a basal or radical leaf.