An Origin For The Week

I haven’t put one up for a while.
So while you wait for my Flash Fiction Friday contribution. . . commit this to memory, there’ll be a test later.
The word “tip” refers to a gratuity; or to give a gratuity/ piece of ‘inside information or advice, or the act of giving it. Brewer’s 1870 dictionary gives an early meaning of ‘tip’ as a ‘present of money’ or ‘ a bribe’. This definition is alongside the other meaning for ‘tip’ which commonly applies today, IE, a piece of private or secret information such as given to police investigators or gamblers. The expressions and origins are related: ‘Tip the wink’ and ‘tip off’ are variations on the same theme, where ‘tip’ means to give. Tip (as a verb in English) seems first to have appeared in the sense of giving in the early 17th century (Chambers) and is most likely derived from Low German roots, pre-14th century, where the verb ‘tippen’ meant to touch lightly. These early derivations have been reinforced by the later transfer of meaning into noun form (meaning the thing that is given – whether money or information) in the 17th and 18th centuries. Apparently (Ack PM) J R Ripley’s book, ‘Believe it or not’, a collection of language curiosities, circa 1928, includes the suggestion that ‘tip’ (meaning a gratuity given for good service) is actually an acronym based on ‘To Insure Promptness’. While there is a certain logic to this, the various ‘tip’ meanings almost certainly existed before and regardless of this other possible acronym-based contributory derivation.
So now you know!

About Angel

Wife, mom, cake artist, Guide Dog puppy raiser, ADHD champion, wedding planner, and tattooed cat slave.

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