I am not sure about the meaning of the highlighted part of the following sentence:

A clear foe of the brute force deployed so unilaterally by the stupidly authoritarian Roman Empire, Getafix stands surety for another concept of order, based on much more humanist values.

Does that mean that he exchanges surety for another, better concept?

The dictionaries I've consulted don't feature this kind of construction.

Or is "surety" a spelling mistake and should be "surely"? I would have expected "firmly" then, though.

(EDIT: As I've commented below, I hadn't realised that "stand surety" is a phrase, otherwise I would have found it in a dictionary and not checked all the meanings of the entry for "stand").

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    To stand surety for (person X) (as with to stand bail) means to provide the surety / guarantee that X will honour some obligation (such as an obligation to appear in court for trial, or to repay a debt, where if X doesn't pay, you will). You do this for X because that's the preposition we usually use to indicate the on behalf of / instead of X relationship. Thus, My wife speaks for me essentially means What my wife says is what I would say if I were speaking myself (it accurately reflects what I think). Jul 4, 2017 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


This is an answer based on the English content of the question. It makes no claims regarding history, fact/fiction or other aspects of the character Getafix.

stand surety law : to agree to be legally responsible if another person fails to pay a debt or to perform a duty She will stand surety for him. - MW

The idea being conveyed is that Getafix opposed (as a "clear foe") brute force. Consider an imaginary courtroom, where the concept of order has been imprisoned (with reference to what the author claims to be the state of the Roman Empire). Getafix then comes into the courtroom and agrees to stand surety for order, with the result that order is released from prison.

So the author is claiming that Getafix champions order against brute force. That is, that although the Roman Empire widely used brute force, Getafix's actions or influence etc allowed a more civilised approach to government to emerge.

The phrasing in the quote sounds fine and communicates well. There's no need to change "surety" to "surely".

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    I see, thanks. The idea that "stand surety" is a phrase simply hadn't entered my mind, otherwise I would have found it. Jul 4, 2017 at 13:47
  • @Turpidude I'm a native AmE speaker, and I had not even heard of this.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jul 4, 2017 at 14:01
  • @Ben Kovitz Since my sentence stems from the official Asterix site (asterix.com), I was a bit surprised by the language that can be found there. But then again, that somehow fits the comic. Jul 4, 2017 at 14:11
  • @Turpidude From memory, the commentary (as opposed to the dialogue) in Asterix comics tends to have a formal air to it, coupled with dry humour.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 4, 2017 at 14:23

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