Stint and Stent

It’s not uncommon to see comments like these in web postings:

The artery was far too small to fit a stint.

Initially, they put in a stint and ordered an ERCP to determine the nature of the mass causing the blockage. 

They went in, got the stone, and put in a stint so any future stones would just pass.

The word these writers are reaching for is stent, a medical device in the form of a tube that is placed temporarily in a duct or blood vessel to relieve an obstruction or to aid in treatment.

Another type of stent is used in dentistry to determine the position of implants.

The word stent is an eponym, a word that derives from someone’s name. The person in this case is Charles T. Stent (1807—1885), an English dentist who improved the material used for making impressions of the mouth for dentures. He registered his compound under the trademark Stents.

The word stint is used as both noun and verb.

As a verb, to stint means “to use or give something in limited amounts.”

Examples of stint as a verb:

The principal gives Coach Brown all the equipment he asks for, but stints his classroom teachers on file folders and paperclips.

The author brings the Middle Ages to life and does not stint in describing the stench of a privy.

It would be shortsighted to stint on preparing children to compete in a 21st century economy just to save a few nickels now on the local tax rate.

As a noun, stint has more than one meaning.

A meaning of stint related to the verb is “limitation of supply or effort.” This use is most common in the phrase “without stint.” Here are some examples of this use:

Fanny gave her smiles and affection to her children without stint.

Her husband became sunk in alcohol and began to give away money without stint.

Without stint, she wept.

A common meaning of stint is “a period of time spent in a particular activity.” Here are examples of this use:

Ben Hallock has done two stints as a coach.

With trauma, a long stint in intensive care may not mean low recovery odds.

Two of the school board members did short stints in jail on felony conspiracy charges.

A type of sandpiper called a

A type of sandpiper called a “stint”

A less common meaning of stint is “A small short-legged sandpiper of northern Eurasia and Alaska, with a brownish back and white underparts.”

For a detailed discussion of the origin and medical significance of the word stent, see this article by M. Hedin: The origin of the word stent, Acta Radiologica, 38:6, 937-939.