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Word of the Day : August 14, 2011

gumption

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noun GUMP-shun

Definition

1 : (chiefly dialect) common sense, horse sense

2 : enterprise, initiative

Examples

Mr. Walters hoped that at least one of his young sales clerks would have the gumption to apply for the vacant assistant manager position.

"Plans for the relocation and expansion of Vacaville's homeless shelter have hit a snag, but it looks like a little gumption and the city's support could keep the project from derailing." -- From an article by Kimberly K. Fu in the Contra Costa (California) Times, July 10, 2011



Did You Know?

English speakers have had gumption (the word, that is) since the early 1700s. The term's exact origins aren't known, but its earliest known uses are found in British and especially Scottish dialects (which also include the forms rumblegumption and rumgumption). In its earliest uses, gumption referred to intelligence or common sense, especially when those qualities were combined with high levels of energy. By the 1860s, American English speakers were also using gumption to imply ambition or tenacity, but it wasn't until the early 1900s that gumption began to appear in English texts as a direct synonym of courage or get-up-and-go. American showman P.T. Barnum also claimed that gumption named a particular kind of hard cider, but that sense is far from common today.

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