Stem-winder or stemwinder is an idiom that originated in the United States. An idiom is a 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 in a blue moon, 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, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom stem-winder or stemwinder, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
A stem-winder or stemwinder is an exciting speech that whips the crowd into a frenzy; a rousing speech that energizes a crowd; a persuasive speech that stirs emotion. The idiom stem-winder or stemwinder is derived from a type of watch that came into use after the American Civil War. A stem-winder or stemwinder is a watch with a winding stem attached to it, rather than a key. In Britain, this type of watch was called a keyless watch. The idiom stem-winder or stemwinder to describe a speech came into use near the end of the nineteenth century. Note that the form stem-winder is a hyphenated compound word that is preferred by the Oxford English Dictionary, and stemwinder is a closed compound word with no hyphen or spaces that is preferred by other dictionaries.
But a report discussing Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s adaptation to radio said that he “was still capable of delivering — and did when the occasion warranted it — a rousing stemwinder.” (The Columbia Journalism Review)
The finest stemwinder in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network isn’t the famous speech, or the other famous speech, but the one no one ever talks about. (The National Review)
“I think you and any viewer knows exactly where I`m going with this,” MSNBC host Ari Melber said halfway into a stemwinder of a question for Sen. Cory Booker. (The Palm Beach Post)