Jump-start is an idiom that came into use in the twentieth century. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom jump-start, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Jump-start means to infuse energy into a situation to get the action started. For instance, one may award an internship to a college student to jump-start her career. One may lend money to an someone who wants to start a business to jump-start the business. The expression jump-start came into use after the invention of the automobile. The first definition of the term jump-start meant to provide electricity to a car with a dead battery in order to start the engine. The expression jump-start took on a figurative sense by the 1960s-1970s. Jump-start may be used as a noun or a verb; related terms are jump-starts, jump-started, jump-starting. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the hyphenated form, though the term is also seen rendered as one word, jumpstart, or as two words without a hyphen, jump start.


House Democrats are going back to the drawing board on a huge COVID-19 relief bill, paring back the measure in an attempt to jump-start negotiations with the Trump administration. (The Northwest Herald)

As we begin to approach conversations about “getting back to work,” a robust well-being program is imperative to support your workforce and jump-start your recovery. (Forbes Magazine)

The failed contract negotiations jumpstarted a voluntary annexation of the north side of Darrough Chapel, which included 58 households and 140 residents. (The Kokomo Tribune)

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