The Anglo-Saxon word which has become stirrup was stigrap, and if this were to be literally translated into modern English, it would become “sty-rope” or “climbing-rope.”
The Anglo-Saxon word is composed of the root word stig-, from stigan, “to climb” (see under steward for sty, “to climb”), plus rap, “rope.”
This leads us to the conclusion that the first stirrups were merely short lengths of ropes thrown over the back of the steed, and having loops tied in either end.
But the stirrup cup had nothing to do, either then or later, with any resemblance of these loops to cups.
Instead, it could be translated today as “one for the road,” for it was the cup of wine or other refreshment offered to the traveler who, having mounted, was in the stirrups and ready to take off upon a journey.