Blue Monday. A day for reflection or taking stock? From the German ‘Stock’ and Dutch ‘Stok’, meaning tree trunk or stump.
Stock, inventory, a supply for future use. And a flower. Shops used to close around the end of the year for stocktaking and there were stocktaking sales. You can stock up on things you need but if you buy too much toilet paper, you’re stockpiling. As any hamster will tell you, that’s not a nice trait in humans. I wonder if the reason that stock came to mean store was because if you had a big enough stock of wood, you didn’t have to worry about being cold? (‘Warmpjes bij’ in Dutch). Standing stock-still, you’re as immobile as a tree trunk. And the stock of a rifle is the part that leans into your shoulder. Lock, stock and barrel – all the parts of a gun. So if you’ve bought up the entire supply of toilet paper, you’ve bought it lock, stock and barrel.
Stock is a broth made by boiling meat or vegetables but the stock market has nothing to do with soup. It’s where stocks and shares are bought and sold. By stock-brokers. And of course, being placed in the stocks was also a medieval punishment involving being shackled by the ankles in a wooden frame.
And lastly, a stock phrase is a recurring or standard phrase – one kept in store for when you need it.