gumption

noun
gump·tion | \ˈgəm(p)-shən \

Definition of gumption 

1 chiefly dialectal : common sense, horse sense

2 : enterprise, initiative lacked the gumption to try

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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.

Examples of gumption in a Sentence

It took a lot of gumption to speak up for yourself like that. that girl has no more gumption than a grasshopper and is likely to marry the first man who comes along

Recent Examples on the Web

Handstands and guns appear, ghostly music, exigency — the passage bursts with vernacular gumption, prismatic parlance. Simone White, New York Times, "Poem: From ‘We Are Here to Slow Time’," 13 June 2018 Miller is ready to show culinary skills laced with Houston gumption. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "First Look: International Smoke at CityCentre," 3 July 2018 Whoever makes that roll of the dice should have a clear vision of the road ahead, and the gumption to see it through. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The Mets Are Deeply, Thoroughly Broken," 27 June 2018 This guy’s all wide-eyed gumption and smirking confidence — not the cynic who gets a crash course in the Force later in life. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: 'Solo' gambles (and wins) by not being just another 'Star Wars' movie," 15 May 2018 Several people who have worked with McMaster perceive, in his tireless gumption, a form of naïveté. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "McMaster and Commander," 23 Apr. 2018 Dumezweni maintains Hermione’s gumption and adds a level of insecurity to her character over always being smarter than everyone else. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," 23 Apr. 2018 Tales of individuals’ gumption — trekking the tundra, fighting off bears, starting fires to stay warm — are as much a part of Alaska’s culture as the midnight sun or the North Star on the state flag. Kirk Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Car Stolen in Anchorage? Enter Floyd the Thief Chaser," 13 Apr. 2018 And considering that this is a guy who made his own bat because a tree had been struck by lightning, this took considerable gumption. Charles P. Pierce, SI.com, "Royals GM Dayton Moore Makes Bizarre and Troubling Choice to Host Anti-Porn Activists," 21 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gumption.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gumption

1719, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gumption

origin unknown

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Time Traveler for gumption

The first known use of gumption was in 1719

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More Definitions for gumption

gumption

noun

English Language Learners Definition of gumption

: courage and confidence

gumption

noun
gump·tion | \ˈgəmp-shən \

Kids Definition of gumption

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More from Merriam-Webster on gumption

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gumption

Spanish Central: Translation of gumption

Nglish: Translation of gumption for Spanish Speakers

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