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Stonewall

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  • Stonewall is an interesting idiom that dates to the late 1800s. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the word stonewall, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    To stonewall means to obstruct progress, to impede the completion of something, to be uncooperative or to be evasive. One may stonewall an investigation, a debate, a building project, the passage of a law, etc. Related words are stonewalls, stonewalled, stonewalling. Stonewall is also used as a noun to mean the act of obstructing or impeding progress. The word stonewall is derived from the term stone wall, which is simply a wall built of stone. The idea is of immovability. Note that the term stone wall meaning a wall built of stone is rendered as two separate words. The term stonewall was first used in the 1880s to describe certain actions in sports. Stonewall was first used in the 1910s to describe actions in the political arena. Interestingly, an American general, Thomas Jackson, earned the nickname Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War. At the Battle of Bull Run, he rushed into a break in the line and held his ground, whereupon General Bee observed, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!”

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    Examples

    The Turnbull government on Wednesday introduced legislation giving effect to the personal income tax cuts promised in Tuesday night’s budget, but stonewalled when asked to produced a detailed year-by-year costing of the measure beyond the forward estimates, and an update on the costs of the company tax cut. (The Guardian)

    Campaigners who say they were sexually abused in schools have accused the Department of Education of “stonewalling” their attempts to seek justice and compensation. (The Irish Times)

     


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