What is a tip or to tip? Definition and examples

A tip may be a useful piece of information, especially regarding how to do something or which financial instrument to buy. In horse racing, it refers to advice regarding which horse to place our bet on. In a restaurant, if you tipped the waiter, it means you left a small amount of money. It is common to give a little extra money to waiters, hotel porters, taxi drivers, and hairdressers.

A financial instrument is a monetary contract between parties. Futures, options, stocks and shares, bonds, and bills of exchange, for example, are financial instruments.

The pointed end of something

The word may refer to the pointed end of something, such as a pencil or arrow. We often refer to the end of vegetables that we cut off and eat as tips. It is common to eat, for example, the tips of asparagus.

We often refer to things that we fit to the end of objects that are long and thin as tips. Walking canes commonly have metal tips, while cigarettes typically have filter tips.

We use the word when we are frustrated or surprised because we cannot remember the name of something. We are about to utter it but can’t remember. If I say: “Her name is on the tip of my tongue,” it means I cannot remember it, but my memory nearly has it – it will come any second…gosh, how frustrating…!

A place where we dump things

When we have large objects that we want to through away, we may take them down to the tip and dump them there. Most towns’ garbage ends up in municipal tips. This meaning is more common in the UK, Ireland, and Australasia than in North America.

If I say “His house was an absolute tip,” I mean it was a complete mess, i.e., extremely untidy.

Phil Silvers talking about a tip - image
Phil Silvers (1911-1985) was an American entertainer and comedic actor. He played Master Sergeant Ernie Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show, a 1950s sitcom set on a US Army post. (Source of quote: brainyquote.com)

Tip – gratuity

A gratuity is a sum of money a customer gives to a service worker. This money is in addition to the basic price. We also call it a tip. We refer to the practice of giving a gratuity as ‘tipping.’

Tipping is much more common in the United States than in Europe. In the UK, for example, it is common to give a waiter a gratuity, but not the bartenders in a pub. You should not give a gratuity in a restaurant if your bill says “service charge included.”

In some sectors, tipping is against the law and could get you into trouble. You should never offer a police officer a gratuity. He or she might arrest you for attempted bribery.

Insider trading

In the world of stock markets, ‘tipping’ is the act of giving confidential information about a public company to somebody who is not authorized to receive that information. It is illegal.

Ten tips to becoming a millionaire

In this context, the term means ‘pieces of advice.’ The person providing the tips presumably has privileged and valuable information.

Some horse racing and stock market newspapers may have a ‘tip of the day’ column. In this section, an expert tells the readers where to invest their money or place their bets.

Somebody who regularly provides advice to people on how to bet on sporting events is a ‘tipster.’

British business magnate, Sir Richard Branson, who founded the Virgin Group, once said:

“If you want to be more productive, then start at the start: get there on time. Whether it is a meeting, a flight, an appointment or a date, it’s important to ensure you are there when you say you will be there.”

“This may feel like an old-fashioned tip to give, but it has served me well for five decades in business.”

Stand on tiptoe

We stand on tiptoe when we need to be higher up so that we can see, for example, over people’s heads. In a sports stadium, people might have to stand on tiptoe if everybody in front stands up.

Good ballet dancers can walk around on tiptoe for a very long time.

We tiptoe across a room when we don’t want anybody to hear us. A burglar, for example, may tiptoe around a house at night because he doesn’t want to wake up the people who live there.