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Stipʹulate (3 syl.)


The word is generally given from the Latin stipula (a straw), and it is said that a straw was given to the purchaser in sign of a real delivery. Isidore (v. 24) asserts that the two contracting parties broke a straw between them, each taking a moiety, that, by rejoining the parts, they might prove their right to the bargain. With all deference to the Bishop of Seville, his “fact” seems to belong to limbo-lore. All bargains among the Romans were made by asking a question and replying to it. One said, An stipem vis? the other replied, Stipem volo (“Do you require money?” “I do”); the next question and answer were, An dabis? Dabo (“Will you give it?” “I will”); the third question was to the surety, An spondes? to which he replied, Spondeo (“Will you be security?” “I will”), and the bargain was made. So that stipulate is compounded of stips-volo (stipʹulo), and the tale about breaking the straws seems to be concocted to bolster up a wrong etymology.


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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Stigmites, or St. Stephen’s Stones
Stiletto of the Storm (The)
Still Sow
Still Waters Run Deep
Stilling (John Henry)
Stilo Novo
Stimulants of Great Men
“Stir Up” Sunday
Stirrup (A)
Stirrup Cup
Stock Exchange Slang
Stock, Lock, and Barrel