gumption

noun
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

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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 Considering that a new class of graduates will arrive, Harper will have to be even more cunning to avoid the possibility of a newcomer with similar gumption jeopardizing her place at the company. Reana Johnson, refinery29.com, "Harper’s Shocking Industry Finale Decision Isn’t Really All That Shocking," 4 Dec. 2020 Ben Wheatley, however, is a filmmaker with no lack of gumption. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "Hitchcock’s ‘Rebecca’ gets a stylish makeover," 23 Oct. 2020 Manda Collins delivers a delectable mystery that reads like Victorian Moonlighting (with a good heaping of Nancy Drew's gumption). Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: November romances bring mischief, star-crossed lovers, and hot dukes," 4 Dec. 2020 Ben Wheatley, however, is a filmmaker with no lack of gumption. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "Hitchcock’s ‘Rebecca’ gets a stylish makeover," 23 Oct. 2020 Ben Wheatley, however, is a filmmaker with no lack of gumption. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "Hitchcock’s ‘Rebecca’ gets a stylish makeover," 23 Oct. 2020 Ben Wheatley, however, is a filmmaker with no lack of gumption. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "Hitchcock’s ‘Rebecca’ gets a stylish makeover," 23 Oct. 2020 Ben Wheatley, however, is a filmmaker with no lack of gumption. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "Hitchcock’s ‘Rebecca’ gets a stylish makeover," 23 Oct. 2020 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

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 2

History and Etymology for gumption

origin unknown

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Time Traveler for gumption

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The first known use of gumption was in 1719

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Last Updated

23 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gumption.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gumption. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for gumption

gumption

noun
How to pronounce gumption (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gumption

informal : courage and confidence

gumption

noun
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

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