gump·​tion ˈgəm(p)-shən How to pronounce gumption (audio)
: enterprise, initiative
lacked the gumption to try
chiefly dialectal : common sense, horse sense

Did you know?

English speakers have had gumption (the word, that is) since the early 1700s. The term's source isn't known, but early examples of it are found in Scottish (the related terms rumblegumption and rumgumption can be found there too). Gumption originally referred to common sense, but American English speakers adopted the word and took it in a new direction, using it to refer to the kind of courage or get-up-and-go that makes undertaking difficult things possible. Art historians may know a couple additional applications for the word: gumption was historically used both to refer to the art of preparing painters' colors, and as a synonym of megilp, which refers to a mixture of linseed oil and mastic varnish that is used as a vehicle for oil paints.

Examples of gumption in a Sentence

It took a lot of gumption to speak up for yourself like that. the company needs a new leader with the gumption and know-how that comes from experience
Recent Examples on the Web But for seven months, Biden has allowed himself to be ignored and steamrolled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the question now is whether the court ruling will help Biden find the gumption to pressure Israel to obey the decision. Nicholas Kristof, The Mercury News, 30 May 2024 Again, Melanie’s reassuring presence gives Taylor the gumption to tell her story. Andy Andersen, Vulture, 19 Apr. 2024 So, too, will the opportunity awaiting any would-be political leader with the gumption to articulate a foreign policy that promises to achieve the aim of the original America First movement: to ensure the safety and well-being of the United States without engaging in needless wars. Andrew J. Bacevich, Foreign Affairs, 15 Aug. 2017 Her gumption in choosing to compete against 69 men while also braving the questionable quality of the river water was apparently enough to merit a headline for a preview on the event. Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, 26 May 2024 Others have relayed how Jill’s gumption impacted their own lives, including the multiple women who told her Jill’s decision to go to graduate school on the show inspired them to get their own degrees. Ashley Spencer, Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2024 What evidence is there to suggest the Wildcats possess the game and the gumption required to fend off plucky Long Beach State on Thursday in Salt Lake City, then repel Nevada or Dayton in the second round? Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, 19 Mar. 2024 But Forbes’ gumption was irreplaceable in the first half. Luca Evans, Orange County Register, 11 Mar. 2024 What skills — beyond a combination of moxie, gumption, and can-do spirit — do these racers possess that will get them to the finish line before everyone else? Dalton Ross,, 13 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gumption.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1719, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of gumption was in 1719


Dictionary Entries Near gumption

Cite this Entry

“Gumption.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


gump·​tion ˈgəm(p)-shən How to pronounce gumption (audio)
: courageous or ambitious initiative
lacked the gumption to try

More from Merriam-Webster on gumption

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