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({sm}st{ope}pn{shti} Also stepney[f. the name of Stepney Street, Llanelli, the place of manufacture.] 

    1. A spare wheel for a motor vehicle, comprising a ready-inflated tyre on a spokeless metal rim, which could be clamped temporarily over a punctured wheel. Also stepney wheel. Now Hist. exc. in Bangladesh, India, and Malta, where = any spare wheel.

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   1907 Westm. Gaz. 3 Dec. 4/3 The popularity of the Stepney Wheel has never been more clearly demonstrated than at the Olympia Show. 1910 G. K. CHESTERTON Alarms & Discursions 179 Then he said, ‘And I left the Stepney behind.’ 1911 Daily Chron. 5 Jan. 4/7 Wales claims the origin of the ‘stepney’, the spare wheel and tyre. 1928 Evening News 7 Aug. 9/2 None of your detachable wheels, rims, or Stepneys! 1929 H. NICOLSON Let. 22 July in J. Lees-Milne Harold Nicolson (1980) xvi. 376 [In Berlin he was like] a stepney wheel of a car that is seldom taken out of the garage. 1937 Autocar Handbk. (ed. 13) xi. 196 With the introduction of pneumatic tyres came the puncture, and soon the ‘Stepney’ appeared: a spare rim and tyre fitted with clamps. 1971 Listener 11 Nov. 653/1 After jacking up the car, one of them turned to me and said: ‘Have you a Stepney?’ ‘Yes, in the boot,’ I answered... It takes an old Edwardian like me to know that a Stepney was an attachable wheel-rim, which came in about 1907 and went out about ten years later. You wouldn't hear the term in England now, but in Malta it is the ordinary word for a spare wheel. 1973 Opinion (Bombay) July 31 It helps to have a few holes in the roof of the car and to go about without a Stepney. 1975 J. DAY Bosch Bk. Motor Car 178 An early attempt to make puncture mending less troublesome was the Stepney spare wheel of T. M. and W. Davies in 1904. 1977 Navbharat Times (Bombay) 2 June (Advt.), Yezdi stepney wheel complete with tyre, tube, hub and bearings. 1980 L. LEWIS Private Life of Country House iii. 35 About 1920 we bought a secondhand T model Ford... In case of punctures there was a Stepney wheel to be clamped on to the rim to get you home.

    2. fig.

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   1928 E. SUTTON tr. A. Londres's Road to Buenos Ayres ii. 18, I told her I had a woman already in Buenos Ayres, that she could only be my little sweetheart, as we say, or my ‘stepney’, if you like that better. 1929 E. LINKLATER Poet's Pub xxvi. 282 Redemption being carried as a kind of stepney on the best of all possible worlds. 1979 P. NIHALANI et al. Indian & Brit. Eng. I. 167 Dr X may not be able to give his talk{em}we'd better arrange for a stepney.

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