discretion c.1300, dyscrecyun, “moral discernment,” from O.Fr. discrecion or directly from L.L. discretionem (nom. discretio) “discernment, power to make distinctions,” in classical Latin “separation, distinction,” from pp. stem of discernere “to separate, distinguish” (see DISCERN(Cf. ↑discern)). Phrase at (one’s) discretion attested from 1570s, from sense of “power to decide or judge” (late 14c.)


1550s, “engagement or undertaking to do something,” from L. stipulationem (nom. stipulatio), from stipulari “exact a promise.” Traditionally said to be from L. stipula “straw,” in ref. to some obscure symbolic act; this is rejected by most authorities, who, however, have not come up with a better guess.