1550s, "a commitment or activity to do something" (now obsolete), from Latin stipulationem (nominative stipulatio), noun of action from past participle stem of stipulari "exact a promise, engage, bargain," of uncertain origin. Traditionally said to be from Latin stipula "stalk, straw" (see stipule) in reference to some obscure symbolic act; this is rejected by most authorities, who, however, have not come up with a better guess. De Vaan suggests "the original meaning of the verb was 'to draw/cut straws.' ... The noun stip- must have developed from a concrete object that was used for payments, but the nature of the object is unknown: a certain stalk of a plant? a measure of corn?" Meaning "act of specifying one of the terms of a contract or agreement" is recorded from 1750. Meaning "that which is stipulated or agreed upon" in English is from 1802.
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