8

That statement is from Grimm's fairy tales.

What is the meaning of the phrase "stock and stone"? Where else can I use it?

  • 7
    It is an old fashioned phrase, so you basically would not use it anywhere else unless you deliberately wanted to sound old fashioned or quaint. Even then, probably more than 90% of native speakers would not know what stock means in the phrase. I never heard of it until now. – GoDucks Dec 25 '15 at 15:13
2

The definition comes from the word stock. See the meaning of the sentence on DamkerngT.'s comment below. According to definition 5:

stock:

  1. the trunk or main stem of a tree or other plant, as distinguished from roots and branches.
  • 2
    I think you found a right definition, but ... the fox began to run, and away they went over stock and stone so quick that their hair whistled in the wind would mean that the fox, with our protagonist on its tail, ran over stocks (trunks) and stones (very quickly), rather than ran to the stone which was next to the trunk. – Damkerng T. Dec 25 '15 at 12:50
  • @DamkerngT. I've highlighted that in my answer. Thanks. – Alejandro Dec 25 '15 at 13:24
  • 3
    You might want to note that this is specialized vocabulary, used in specialized industries. It is not used in everyday English with this meaning. – GoDucks Dec 25 '15 at 15:15
  • @DamkerngT although Stoney says the phrase is a merism for "all sorts of terrain." (Though I don't know how one can run over woodland, and how woodland can be described as stock(s). This question really lacks a quality answer, at this point, which could be the reason a new user asks the same question as an answer. Both existing questions are, well, stumps. – Alan Carmack May 17 '16 at 14:14
8

I think stock means tree stump. I'm German and "over stock and stone" is a typical German expression (über Stock und Stein).

  • 5
    +1 Do the Grimms actually use this phrase? "Stock and stone" is a fixed phrase in English, too, all the way back to Ælfric's translation of the Bible around the year 1000, in speaking of idols of wood and stone. Such memorable alliterative pairings are common in traditional poetry and storytelling—*sticks and stones, feast or famine, thick and thin*—and in the 19th century English writers with an archaicizing bent began to use stock and stone as a sort of topographical merism to mean "all sorts of terrain": woodlands and bare rock. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 25 '15 at 13:43
  • 5
    I find that in fact the Grimms do use it. It's KHM 57: "Und kaum hatte er sich aufgesetzt, so fing der Fuchs an zu laufen, und da gings über Stock und Stein, dass die Haare im Winde pfiffen." – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 25 '15 at 14:03
  • "gings" is interesting. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 25 '15 at 14:44
  • 1
    Deuteronomy 28.36: ... drihten sent uncuðe ðeode ofer eow ða ðe ge ne cunnon & ge ðeowiað fremdum godum stoccum & stanum – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 25 '15 at 14:53
1

Q: What is the meaning of the phrase "stock and stone"?

This stock seems to literally mean "tree trunk" or "stump". In my opinion, it's best to understand over stock and stone as a fixed phrase, a merism (a figure of speech) meaning "across country", "over hill and dale", "over rough and smooth", or as StoneB nicely put it, over "all sorts of terrain": woodlands and bare rock.

Q: Where else can I use it?

It's not commonly used in everyday English. It's probably a fixed phrase which, as GoDucks said, "It is an old fashioned phrase, so you basically would not use it anywhere else unless you deliberately wanted to sound old fashioned or quaint."


From the original page, The Golden Bird by Grimm Brothers:

...; so the fox said, ‘Sit upon my tail, and you will travel faster.’ So he sat down, and the fox began to run, and away they went over stock and stone so quick that their hair whistled in the wind.

This appears to be translated from the original German text in Der goldene Vogel KHM 57 (1857):

..., antwortete der Fuchs, "und damit du schneller fortkommst, so steig hinten auf meinen Schwanz." Und kaum hatte er sich aufgesetzt, so fing der Fuchs an zu laufen, und da gings über Stock und Stein, dass die Haare im Winde pfiffen.

I read this part as: the fox, with our protagonist on its tail, ran over hill and dale (literally, tree trunks and stones) very quickly (so quick that their hair whistled in the wind).


FUN FACTS

Leo.org, a well-known German-English online dictionary, gives a few definitions for über stock und stein: across country, over hill and dale, over rough and smooth. (über means over; stock means stick, staff, cane, floor, level; stein means stone, rock)

Tolkien uses this phrase, stock and stone, in his The Lord of the Rings as well:

'"Hoom! Gandalf!" said Treebeard. "I am glad you have come. Wood and water, stock and stone, I can master; but there is a Wizard to manage here."

(Treebeard was the eldest of the Ents; and by a Wizard, he meant Saruman.)

Apparently, the line made it to the movie The Return of the King, as you can see (with some screenshots) on a page at TK421.

  • And I thank you for your comment which drew my attention to this question once again. Thank you! – Damkerng T. May 18 '16 at 4:34

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