the sum and substance

the sum and substance

The central or most important idea, aspect, or part of something; the essence or summary of something. We don't have much time for this board meeting, so let's just get to the sum and substance straight away. The sum and substance of her argument is that a redistribution of wealth would spur the economy into huge gains.
See also: and, substance, sum

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

sum and substance

The total essence of a matter. The sum in this cliché is not really necessary—substance covers the meaning quite well—but the appealing alliteration is probably what helped it survive. Shakespeare used it in Two Gentlemen of Verona (4.1), “My riches are these poor habiliments Of which, if you should disfurnish me, you take the sum and substance that I have.”
See also: and, substance, sum
References in classic literature ?
"Judging from what you all, say" remarked Aunt Jamesina, "the sum and substance is that you can learn -- if you've got natural gumption enough -- in four years at college what it would take about twenty years of living to teach you.
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.
In late March 1993, the United Nations Truth Commission made public its report on human-rights abuses in El Salvador, confirming the sum and substance of Allan Nairn's nine-year-old article.
That's the sum and substance of a good agency compensation program.