sum and substance


Also found in: Legal.

sum and substance

a summary; the gist. Can you quickly tell me the sum and substance of your proposal? In trying to explain the sum and substance of the essay, Thomas failed to mention the middle name of the hero.
See also: and, substance, sum

sum and substance

The essence or gist of something, as in The sum and substance of their platform is financial conservatism. This redundant expression-both sum and substance here mean "essence"-has probably survived owing to alliteration. Shakespeare used it in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (4:1): "My riches are these poor habiliments [clothes], Of which if you should here disfurnish me, You take the sum and substance that I have."
See also: and, substance, sum
References in classic literature ?
Affery, remembering that the clever one had said he would explain himself further in four-and-twenty hours' time, determined for her part that his taking himself off within that period with all he could get, was the final satisfactory sum and substance of his promised explanation; but she held her peace, devoutly thankful to be quit of him.
It would be tedious if given in the beadle's words: occupying, as it did, some twenty minutes in the telling; but the sum and substance of it was, that Oliver was a foundling, born of low and vicious parents.
This, with hazy remembrances of how he had been carried to some office to 'confess judgment' (as he recollected the phrase), and how he had been carried to another office where his life was assured for somebody not wholly unconnected with the sherry trade whom he remembered by the remarkable circumstance that he had a Straduarius violin to dispose of, and also a Madonna, formed the sum and substance of Mr Twemlow's narrative.
The sum and substance of the Kissinger/Scowcroft objection is this: War against Iraqis only acceptable if it is conducted under UN "authority," and with the aim of strengthening the world body's power.