gump·​tion | \ ˈgəm(p)-shən How to pronounce gumption (audio) \

Definition of gumption

1 : enterprise, initiative lacked the gumption to try
2 chiefly dialectal : common sense, horse sense

Keep scrolling for more

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 The liability waiver would apply also to state worker health and safety agencies that have hitherto shown more gumption in policing business violations than their federal counterpart during the pandemic. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "The Media’s Both-Sides Brigade Is Wrong About the Covid-19 Stimulus Deal," 17 Oct. 2020 Ben Wheatley, however, is a filmmaker with no lack of gumption. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: Netflix's haunting new 'Rebecca' stylishly reimagines a Hitchcock classic," 15 Oct. 2020 What they’re made of, we were thrillingly reminded, is a potent mix of grit and gumption. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Padres fight to end but fall short in NLDS Game 2 against Dodgers," 7 Oct. 2020 Only Hanks could battle Nazis in the Atlantic Ocean wearing slippers and with gumption to spare. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "10 movies that got us through quarantine this summer, from 'Black Is King' to 'Da 5 Bloods'," 26 Aug. 2020 The Mavericks will need to muster similar gumption after tying the worst playoff loss in franchise history (by 43 points) to extend their upstart season against a championship contender. Callie Caplan, Dallas News, "3 thoughts on Mavs’ Game 5 loss to Clippers: Porzingis’ void, technical fouls contribute to Dallas’ record loss," 26 Aug. 2020 Of the nearly two dozen coaches in Texas’ storied football history, a little less than a third had enough gumption or gas left to start over as a head coach someplace else. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "Mack Brown’s second act at North Carolina is already a rare feat for ex-Texas coaches and he’s just getting started," 10 July 2020 Today, anyone with the gumption can still experience the brown bears and wild country of the Tongass. Bjorn Dihle, Outdoor Life, "The Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest is Vital for Both Hunters and Brown Bears," 16 June 2020 Will Alameda County have the gumption to challenge Musk’s flouting of rules designed to keep workers safe from the coronavirus and reduce the chance that infected employees could spread COVID-19 in the community? Los Angeles Times, "Column: Does Elon Musk need California more than California needs Elon Musk?," 11 May 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of gumption

1719, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for gumption

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gumption

Time Traveler for gumption

Time Traveler

The first known use of gumption was in 1719

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about gumption

Statistics for gumption

Last Updated

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gumption.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gumption


How to pronounce gumption (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gumption

informal : courage and confidence


gump·​tion | \ ˈgəmp-shən How to pronounce gumption (audio) \

Kids Definition of gumption

More from Merriam-Webster on gumption

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gumption

Nglish: Translation of gumption for Spanish Speakers

Comments on gumption

What made you want to look up gumption? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!