Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
common sense, horse sense; enterprise, initiative
“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.” – Kimberly K. Fu, Contra Costa (California) Times, July 10, 2011
About the Word:
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. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)