Why Is the End of a Contract Stipulated With Broken Straw and What Does Stipulate Mean?

Stipulate is from stipules, the Latin word for straw, and refers to the specification of an essential part or condition of an agreement.

When a landowner in feudal England wanted to remove a serf from his property, he would present the unfortunate tenant with a broken straw symbolizing the termination of their contract.

During this time, men of questionable character would loiter around the courthouse offering to testify for money.

They stipulated this by wearing a piece of straw in their shoes and were called “straw men.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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