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T.I.P.S.= To Insure Proper/Prompt Service?

I stand by the fact that "tips" has no hidden meaning, since people frequently confuse "insure" and "ensure".

1. to guarantee against loss or harm.
2. to secure indemnity to or on, in case of loss, damage, or death.
3. to issue or procure an insurance policy on or for.

1. to secure or guarantee
2. to make sure or certain

To Ensure Proper Service would make sense, but doesn't work with the word "tips". People always claim, "TIPS means such and such" (for example, the sixth response in this post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/552081 ), but I don't think that's the case. TIPS means nothing at all, besides whatever the word's actual etymology is.


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  1. A basic rule of thumb in the etymology game is, words are very, very rarely formed from acronyms, with the exception of certain 20th century terms like radar, sonar, laser, etc.

    Claiming that origin for tips, like the similar claim often made for posh ("port out starboard home") is completely bogus, a retrofit of a contrived phrase to a perfectly good pre-existing word. There's even a term for this: backronym. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backronym

    5 Replies
      1. re: invinotheresverde

        So I guess the old "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" story is also bogus, right?

          1. re: grampart

            As is "Fornication Under Consent of the King"

        1. The only time TIPS would mean to insure proper service is when you pay the Gecko and he gurantees that your receive the service and if not he will pay you the policy amount

          jfood once read that the term comes from the bible but he just tried to google and came up empty. if anyone has the link to that historical perspective jfood would appreciate it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jfood


            my hats off to the writers of this wiki on tipping.

            1. re: jfood

              i think there was an injunction in the OT to always tip the scales (this is also the source of that expression) in the favor of the customer, in other words balance the scales and then throw a bit more on in the customers favor.

            2. According to Webster's it says that insure is:
              1 : to provide or obtain insurance on or for
              2 : to make certain especially by taking necessary measures and precautions
              I think that it would make sense with number two.
              Also Ensure and Insure both come from the same middle english word, asseurer so I don't seen an issue with its

              1. T.I.P.S.
                To Insure Proper Sanitation.

                You don't know where those smaller bills have been... Don't go into that dark and slimy gutter.

                Best to leave all those smaller bills in the hands of those who have a higher metabolism and better immune system.

                ;) It's a Win-Win situation.

                1. I have some Ensure coupons.

                  1. From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
                    "give a small present of money to," c.1600, originally "to give, hand, pass," thieves' cant, perhaps from tip (v.3) "to tap." The meaning "give a gratuity to" is first attested 1706. The noun in this sense is from 1755; the noun meaning "piece of confidential information" is from 1845; and the verb in the sense "give private information to" is from 1883.

                    The word's supposed origin as an acronym is highly unlikely and the story seems to be no older than an editorial in "Life" magazine from July 15, 1946, claiming the restaurant server's word tip "probably comes from a London coffeehouse custom of two centuries ago when the words 'To Insure Promptness' were written on notes to the waiter, with coins attached. Later just the initials T.I.P. were used." There is no historical evidence for this."


                    1. I'll consider giving the slightest credence to this, when I hear of folk tipping at the beginning of a meal.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Harters

                        I always wanted to have the guts to lay a pile of bills on the table at the beginning of a meal and say "Here's your tip for now. Let's see how you do." Then take a buck or two away everytime I have to ask twice or they get the order wrong.

                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                          The "backwards" tipping idea is slightly evil...but I LIKE it.

                          I only wonder if it could expand to work for other services. Imagine being able to chop $10 off your doctor's- visit bill for every minute you were kept waiting past your appointment time? I mean, why stop with food?

                          1. re: pedalfaster

                            I do this when I go to the city. I will tip the waitress or waiter a twenty when I am seated in a real busy restaurant. I am never ignored, seems to work and I get great service. I have also done this with cabbies. Instead of driving in circles to raise the fare. Their busting it to my destination as fast as possible.

                            1. re: emglow101

                              I can see where tipping in advance is a useful ploy. Deducting from it as you go along, however, is just downright scummy.

                              1. re: BobB

                                At least they know they are getting a good tip. I'm sure plenty of waiters and waitresses have been burned by a lot of cheap asses. I see nothing wrong. And yes, I do tip again after a meal and drinks. I never deduct the twenty. That is theirs for keeping.

                              2. re: emglow101

                                Although the logical inference of this is that as you need to tip in advance the general practice of tipping at the end is not working. If it was there wouldn't be the need to signal you are generous with a pre-tip.

                          2. re: Harters

                            A friend always tips the valet car parker when he arrives and promises more if the car is parked in front of the restaurant and in perfect condition when he returns. I've found this practice odd but he swears that it guarantees a faultless experience.

                          3. To insure prompt/proper service. Back when this practice began, it was customary to throw a coin to the bar wench or bar keep to make sure that the food and ale would be delivered timely, and as often as the customer wanted. At the end of the meal, time, etc, the customer would give a "gratuity"..a "thanks" a show of graciousness; "late 15th century (denoting graciousness or favor): from Old French gratuité or medieval Latin gratuitas ‘gift,’ from Latin gratus ‘pleasing, thankful.’. Today, sadly, people only leave something after the meal. If they tipped the amount they leave when finished, at the beginning of the meal, most of them wouldn't get ANY service. In the finer dining establishments, it's common practice to receive a tip at the start of the meal, because the customer would like special attention. And you could guarantee, the gratuity at the end would be just as nice. Personally, I always paid better attention to the person that slipped me a $10 or $20 as they sat down.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: BeenHereTooLong

                              "In the finer dining establishments, it's common practice to receive a tip at the start of the meal, because the customer would like special attention. And you could guarantee, the gratuity at the end would be just as nice. Personally, I always paid better attention to the person that slipped me a $10 or $20 as they sat down."

                              I always think this attitude is odd a persons paid/tipped to do their job. In a fine diner people are paying for a good level of service and the value of the tip as a percentage of a larger bill is more. So why the assumption there is a need for cash up front?

                              I would expect if someone won't do their job well unless a customer pre-tips they would be fired from the fine diners I have been to. When I sit down for a meal in the anticipation of paying $300 a head I don't expect to worry about the service level because I didn't pre-tip to the employees standards.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                If I felt I needed to pre-tip to get good service at a fine dining restaurant, then that is a place that is neither fine dining nor, more importantly, a place where I want to spend my money.