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[guhmp-shuh n] /ˈgʌmp ʃən/
noun, Informal.
initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness:
With his gumption he'll make a success of himself.
courage; spunk; guts:
It takes gumption to quit a high-paying job.
common sense; shrewdness.
Origin of gumption
1710-20; orig. Scots
Related forms
gumptionless, adjective
gumptious, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gumption
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All we wanted was them needles and a little elbow-grease and gumption.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • If your father'd just had the gumption to hold out, they'd have had to pay him anything he asked.

    Alice Adams Booth Tarkington
  • There's a lot of stuff in your story that wouldn't be there if you had any gumption.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine
  • Beyond all instruments and weapons are his skill, agility, gumption, diplomacy.

  • Do have some gumption, Amy, and cut out the salty-tear business.

    Little Miss Grouch Samuel Hopkins Adams
British Dictionary definitions for gumption


noun (informal)
(Brit) common sense or resourcefulness
initiative or courage: you haven't the gumption to try
Word Origin
C18: originally Scottish, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gumption

1719, originally Scottish, "common sense, shrewdness," also "drive, initiative," possibly connected with Middle English gome "attention, heed," from Old Norse gaumr "heed, attention." Sense of "initiative" is first recorded 1812.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gumption



Initiative; enterprise; courage; spunk (1831+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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