That statement is from Grimm's fairy tales.
What is the meaning of the phrase "stock and stone"? Where else can I use it?
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The definition comes from the word stock. See the meaning of the sentence on DamkerngT.'s comment below. According to definition 5:
- the trunk or main stem of a tree or other plant, as distinguished from roots and branches.
I think stock means tree stump. I'm German and "over stock and stone" is a typical German expression (über Stock und Stein).
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).
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.
Thank you for your interest in this question.
Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).
Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?